Islamic Bloc & China Cheer For Valley Rebels

4 October 2009
The Telegraph (Kolkata)

New Delhi: Amid Indian worries over what it sees as interference in its internal affairs by Islamic countries and China, the foreign hand has breathed life into Kashmir’s moribund separatist camp. Triggering howls of protest from India, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has for the first time appointed a special envoy on Kashmir. The appointment of Saudi national Abdullah Bin Abdur Rahman, during the OIC’s recent New York meeting which was attended by moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, has given a boost to the separatists who had been forced on the backfoot following the more-than-expected turnout during the Assembly elections. Also bringing cheer to the separatists was China, which started issuing stapled visas for Kashmiris heading for the neighbouring country, a move seen here as its acceptance of Kashmir as a disputed territory. The separatists were virtually ruling the streets in Kashmir last year at the peak of the anti-Amarnath land agitation, but massive public participation in the Assembly elections later, in defiance of their calls for boycott, pushed them to the margins of Kashmir polity. New Delhi too has been indifferent to the calls of moderates for a dialogue for resolving the Kashmir issue after they refused to take part in a round-table conference in 2006, arguing they will not share the table with the mainstream leaders. India has been crying foul over the “interference” by OIC, an organisation of 57 Islamic countries, and China, but the separatists are on cloud nine. “The OIC appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir is significant. We believe Muslim countries would use their good offices to persuade India to work on Kashmir,” said Mirwaiz Farooq, who returned from New York yesterday to a rousing reception. Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Geelani, who otherwise minces no words in hitting out at Farooq, hailed the separatists for “achieving this breakthrough”, though he refrained from naming the mirwaiz. “For the first time, OIC has taken a giant step to address the issue of Kashmir. We hope New Delhi will now shun the rigid attitude and solve the Kashmir issue,” Geelani said. The Hurriyat hardliner now plans to visit the Chinese embassy in Delhi to personally convey his gratitude to Beijing for issuing visas on a separate paper, an indication that it sees Kashmir as a disputed territory.