Geelani Tells Pak To Fix Baloch Problem Before Kashmir

Geelani Tells Pak To Fix Baloch Problem Before Kashmir

3 August 2011
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Sankarshan Thakur

New Delhi: Startling new details that may represent a radical shift in Kashmiri separatists’ view of Islamabad’s role have emerged from the meeting Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had with Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar last month. At a sharp moment in the hour-long conversation, Geelani turned to Khar and advised her government to “set your house in order” before approaching the Kashmir issue. Geelani appeared particularly upset at affairs in Balochistan and parts of Sindh and told Khar’s delegation that unless Pakistan can establish “peace and dignity” for the people of Balochistan, it is pointless their making a case in Kashmir. Geelani’s mind-your-own-business-first counsel comes in the midst of mounting Kashmiri disenchantment with untamed internal disorder in Pakistan. Geelani’s position is being interpreted in circles close to him as an expression of disappointment rather than combativeness. Geelani is not sending a pointed “don’t interfere” message to Pakistan, he is telling them they are no longer in a position to do so because they have lost both stability and credibility as a nation. Following the meeting, Geelani is believed to have been extended an invitation to visit Pakistan upon the culmination of Ramzan in September. It is not known yet whether he will make the trip which will necessarily require clearance from the Centre. There is a history to Geelani’s tiffs with Pakistan over Balochistan, which remains under active military occupation by the Pakistani Army and where thousands have been killed waging an armed liberation struggle over decades. Shortly after Akbar Bugti, arguably the most prominent and popular Baloch leader, was killed by the Pakistani Army in his mountain cave in 2006, Geelani had an argument with the then Pakistan president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Aware that Geelani might bring up Bugti’s murder, Musharraf had sent out military aides to advise Geelani not to mention the Baloch struggle. Bugti’s killing and the Baloch struggle were Geelani’s opening gambit when they met. An argument flared up and the meeting ended prematurely. During his dialogue with Hina Khar’s delegation, Geelani expressed disappointment with Islamabad’s handling of Balochistan at some length and told them that neither a military campaign nor handing out economic packages could suppress Balochi political aspirations. Geelani has been arguing quite on the same lines with New Delhi in relation to Kashmir. Geelani also brought up the issue of Ghulam Nabi Fai, an American Kashmir-lobbyist currently charged with being funded by the ISI, and said his circumstances represented a failure of Pakistani diplomacy. Geelani held that Fai was “not a terrorist but an advocate of Kashmiri independence” and blamed Pakistan for not being able to defend him. Initially a strong votary of merger with Pakistan, the 82-year-old separatist has begun to demand self-determination for Kashmiris on both sides of the border. He has also begun to articulate a Kashmiri rather than Islamic position, demanding that all Kashmiri people - Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Dogras and Pahadis - be allowed to express their future will. This is a position the Pakistani establishment would find rather unpalatable because Islam is the core of their support to the cause of the “Kashmiri struggle”. The dominant Kashmiri sentiment is not only against any future merger with Pakistan but increasingly against having to do “anything with a nation that is itself caught up in bloody strife”. A prominent Kashmiri secessionist who would not be named told The Telegraph: “Pakistan as it is today is barely anything to aspire to, much less seek union with. People all across the Valley have come to realise that, they do not want to become part of that mess, it will only redouble problems.” He was quick to underline that increased Kashmiri aversion for Pakistan “did not at all translate” into anti pro-India sentiment among those seeking independence. “These are separate things, we may be against merger with Pakistan but we do want self-determination and that has been made very clear at each stage by leaders like Geelani.”


[Home] [Archives 2011]
Web site maintained by Md. Sadiq & Friends