Geelani In Pakistan's Line Of Fire
1 November 2004
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: Against the backdrop of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's recent proposal to resolve the Kashmir issue, Islamabad has decided to marginalise the hardline separatist voice of Syed Ali Geelani and focus on the moderate Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz Omar Farooq instead.As a first step towards the process, Geelani is being asked to work together with the Mirwaiz. Sources in separatist circles revealed that the Pakistani establishment is not comfortable with Geelani's 'uncompromising' position. The hardline leader is reported to have criticized Islamabad for its 'inconsistent' policy on Kashmir when he met Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri in Delhi two months ago. Sources said that Kasuri left the meeting midway in protest. And though Geelani did not oppose Musharraf's new proposal on Kashmir, he showed his resentment when he said: 'Pakistan is unilaterally giving concessions to India on Kashmir'. Sources insist that Musharraf is in dire need of support for the flexibility he is bringing in his government's stand on Kashmir. It is argued that the Mirwaiz faction could be the general's best bet. The Mirwaiz faction has already held two rounds of talks with New Delhi during NDA rule. It also gave unconditional support to Musharraf's proposal. Musharraf, who had a one-on-one meeting with the Mirwaiz in Amsterdam last month, has initiated this move. However, it is not known whether Geelani would accept the proposition to work with Mirwaiz. During his Sept 6 meeting with Kasuri, he had rejected a proposal to unite the Hurriyat factions. However, Geelani has time and again shown his willingness to accept Mirwaiz in his Hurriyat but without the other stalwarts - Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Gani Lone.