Why Pak Props Up Hurriyat Leaders?
8 June 2005
The Daily Excelsior
O P Modi
Jammu: Why Pakistan is so quick tempered about the Valley based All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) - a conglomerate of about two dozen individuals and groups? Our neighbour is so much concerned with the APHC leaders that it warned India of a war if passports were not issued to its leaders for visiting Pakistan. While Central and the State governments made it clear that the visitors leaving for Muzaffarabad are not allowed to travel beyond PoK without passports Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri described it as India's 'obduracy'. Threatening India for its 'stubbornness' over the issue Kasuri said that Pakistan would be forced to revise its policy and could insist on the implementation of UN resolutions for a plebiscite in Kashmir. Describing the Hurriyat Conference leaders as the true representatives of Kashmiris Kasuri said that the composite dialogue with India could not be meaningful without their participation. Talking of war once again Kasuri said Pakistan has softened its stance on Kashmir only to avoid a third war in the region. Adopting an extreme posture he said 'But like the past it proved that the peace process with India could not last long'. Kasuri's outburst was the reaction to an earlier statement by the Indian foreign office that it was against the agreement between the two countries on Srinagar Muzaffarabad bus service if the Hurriyat leaders crossed over to Pakistan from PoK. The Hurriyat leaders got their passports issued from Srinagar passport office before leaving for Muzaffarabad. Musharraf's statement that, 'the visit of the Hurriyat leaders to Pakistan from PoK is of great political significance because they have not come on Indian passport and visas issued by Pakistan. So it is the recognition of the disputed status of the Indian held Kashmir by both the countries' is not only misleading but also mischievous. The Hurriyat leaders applied for and got the Indian passports signing themselves as Indian citizens. India had specifically stated that the onus of travel of the Hurriyat leaders from Muzaffarabad to Islamabad lay on Pakistan. If Pakistan deliberately did not issue the visas it was another effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue. In fact by allowing the Hurriyat team to enter without visas Pakistan has violated the Srinagar Muzaffarabad bus service accord. Many believe that the Pakistani leaders are not aware of the ground realities in Jammu & Kashmir which are now well understood by rest of the world. The last assembly polls and the recent local bodies elections in the state which witnessed over 50% voting in the state, have been rated completely free, fair and impartial by even the Western observers and media. This could not have gone un-noticed by the Pak authorities. The indifferent attitude of the people of the Valley and rest of the state towards Hurriyat leaders' visit to PoK and Islamabad should open the eyes of the authorities in Pakistan about the popularity of pro-Azadi and pro-Pak leadership of the Hurriyat. Yet General Musharraf and other government leaders in Islamabad have continued to prop up the Hurriyat as 'the only representatives of the Kashmiris'. In fact the PoK and Pak visit by the leaders of a fractured Hurriyat Conference has exposed the falsehood of this claim. According to press reports there was lot of pressure from separatists groups excepting that of Ali Shah Geelani's, for crossing over to PoK by the bus that left for Muzaffarabad on 2nd June. J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syed described it as rat race. Shabir Shah, who applied for the passport describing him self as Kashmiri citizen and not as Indian citizen, did not get the passport. He was therefore not allowed to travel to PoK. The leaders of the Hurriyat Conference have signed themselves as citizens of India to obtain the passports. They have been availing all the benefits that accrue to a citizen of this country. It is height of hypocrisy that on the one hand they enjoy the best of facilities that can be available to any Indian citizen on the other they have first gone to meet General Musharraf ignoring Indian government's offer of a dialogue to resolve their problems. How can the Hurriyat Conference represent the Kashmiris when even leaders of its constituents do not speak in one voice? While Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani stands for merger of the state with Pakistan Mirwaiz Umar Farooq the breakaway Hurriyat Conference Chairman says that Kashmiris must be made a party in the dialogue between India and Pakistan. There is Shabir Shah who is not prepared to talk about any option other than independence to the state. In this cacophony Pakistan is trying to use the Hurriyat leaders simply to internationalise Kashmir issue. A ray of truth came from Yasin Malik's straight forward address to the PoK assembly. Addressing the members of both houses of the PoK Yasin said, 'A romantic aura created by the PoK leadership about militancy had activated very talented youth who latter lost their life'. He cited the example of a cement factory owner and a pilot who were killed in the course of militancy in the valley. As a result of this truthful speech he did not (was not allowed to) attend the meeting held by the Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad. The apple of Pakistan's eye, till yesterday, Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani has upset the apple cart of that country by declaring that Pakistan was dancing to the America's tune and 'now some leaders of Kashmir have joined the party'. This is yet another truthful statement by a Hurriyat leader. It seems that the truth is slowly dawning on the separatist leaders about Pakistani designs to use them as tools for internationalising the Kashmir issue. Some of them who talked about ending militancy in Kashmir have already been dumped. The time is not far when others of the lot too will be left high and dry by General Parvez Musharraf; in the same way as he treated the Talibans in Afghanistan. In the larger interest of the people of entire state (including PoK and Northern Areas) concerted efforts must be made by all parties for a reunited Jammu & Kashmir with a federal set up of different regions that would enjoy internal autonomy guaranteed by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.