January 2003 News

Young challenge to old Hurriyat stance

20 January 2003
News Network International

SRINAGAR: These are not the best of days for Hurriyat Conference, which recently has had to confront a virtual offer from the visiting British high commissioner Sir Rob Young to join the political mainstream. The development coupled with the ban on the foreign travel of the Hurriyat leaders has come as a surprising development for the observers here who till yesterday were not only expecting New Delhi to re-engage with the conglomerate post-elections but also anticipating increased pressure from international community for a composite Kashmir-centred dialogue. 'Perhaps never in the past 13 years of turmoil has the centre and the west been as dismissive of dialogue with mujahideen as it is now', said a professor at Kashmir University. What baffles the analysts here is the centre as also the west adopting a tough posture towards mujahideen when situation was apparently appearing highly conducive for the success of a dialogue on Kashmir, according to Greater Kashmir. The changed stance of Britain and 'explicit expression' in favour of India has also become much of a debate in valley. Moreso, as the British policy is seen by and large as a carbon copy of the new US approach towards Kashmir. On the other hand, New Delhi's proposed negotiations with the new state government is seen as a futile exercise. 'When there is no problem between the two governments as such, what is there to be talked about or to be found a solution of' said a separatist leader outside the Hurriyat fold adding in a cliched expression that any dialogue between centre and state government would be an 'exercise in self- delusion'. But he has a point when he says the new government even doesn't something like the issue of autonomy to bargain on. However, there are some analysts who see a 'canny method' in the new policy of central government towards Kashmir. That is, in their view, the centre for now is content with the redeeming difference in the general public attitude created by the free and fair elections. The fact that the current turbulence traces itself to the rigged elections in 1988 is enough of a reason for New Delhi to conclude that the recent fair polls will go a long way to address the popular alienation and thereby undermine the separatist sentiment. The current public mood is already seen well along 'these desired lines', which therefore obviates the need for any urgent re-engagement with Hurriyat or separatist spectrum as a whole. The most visible pointer of this emerging trend, say analysts, is the drastic decline in the separatist news flow in the wake of assumption of office by the PDP- led coalition. As a result, public consciousness about the APHC politics is at the lowest ebb. And in such a scenario re-engaging separatists would only help bring them back into limelight and unnecessarily so. What makes the dialogue with Hurriyat further remote is that despite the apparent decline in their popularity, the centre sees no hope of their agreeing to a 'sans Pakistan solution'. The international community, on the other hand, is too pre-occupied with the US obsession with the new bogey of terrorism that struggles, particularly those in the violent form, cannot be considered on their merits. This makes the Young's advice to Hurriyat an urgent reality check of the new international paradigm for the conglomerate.


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