Decks being cleared for Mirwaiz-Singh meeting
27 January 2007
The Daily Times
New Delhi: With Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq making right noises in Pakistan, the centre interlocutors here are clearing decks for his meeting with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh after he returns on Monday, though they said it might not take place immediately. Mirwaizs meeting with Muzaffarbad-based militant commanders, particularly Al-Umar chief Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, is viewed here as an attempt to put on notice other outfits that have been issuing death threats to the Hurriyat leader for his moderate stand that Al-Umar may target them with retaliatory attacks. Such retaliations had taken place in 2004 soon after the killing of Mirwaizs uncle Molvi Mushtaq when hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelanis close confidant advocate Hussamuddin was assassinated and an attempt was also made on the life of his son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah alias Fantoos. Zargars group had been the military arm of Mirwaizs Awami Action Committee till 1993 when it was decimated by the Indian security agencies and also by the Hizbul Mujahideen. Zargar was the only Kashmiri among the three who were released after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight 814 to Kandahar seven years ago. Though Zargars group has lost much of sting in its hotbed Srinagar downtown, intelligence agencies here suspect that it has been revived over past few years, particularly to target selective targets and as such it may resort to counter-attacks on the militant outfits in Jammu and Kashmir if they continue to criticise the moderate Hurriyat chairman. Mirwaizs advice to the militants last week that violence had only been creating more graveyards and that we are not prepared for sacrifice any more of our loved ones has gone down well within the Indian establishment. Citing this statement, doves within the establishment here are once again lobbying for the Hurriyat leaders meeting with the Prime Minister. Earlier, the establishment here was sore at the Hurriyat leaders Pakistan visit and a view was also gaining strength that there was no fun to meet moderate Hurriyat leaders as they no longer enjoy a support or control over militant groups, a requisite for promoting peace. But perceptions have changed in view of the right noises made by them while in Pakistan. Since they left Pakistan on January 18, Union Water Resources Minister Prof Saifuddin Soz and the National Security Advisor M K Narayanan have met twice to discuss reports of their activities and felt it was right time to arrange their meeting with the Prime Minister.