Kashmir Missing In Newfound Indo-Pak Bonhomie

Kashmir Missing In Newfound Indo-Pak Bonhomie

12 September 2012
Rising Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: The apparent change of stance in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy has not gone well with political parties cutting across the ideological divide in the valley with Hurriyat (M) perhaps being the lone exception of looking at the shift as partially positive. The statement made by Pakistan foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar just a day before the foreign minister level talks in Islamabad had all the indications of this “change of heart” vis-ŕ-vis Kashmir. “On the issue of Kashmir, we have to see if our efforts and our strategy in the past have produced desired results. Now the question is, the attitude and formulation we adopted over past 60 years, if we continue sticking to them, will they give us a resolution even after next 65 years? The answer to that is a resounding no,' Khar told DNA’s Iftikhar Gilani. The ruling National Conference is of the belief that Pakistan can never afford to take U-turn on Kashmir as the step could prove “suicidal”. The main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also expressed resentment over the sidelining of the core issue stating that Kashmiris deserve to reap the dividends of peace between India and Pakistan. On the other side of the political spectrum, the separatist camp has also expressed displeasure with the “near omission” of Kashmir from Islamabad’s bilateral agenda. However, Hurriyat (M) stands out in the league as two of its main leaders see the change in diagonally opposite terms. The division in the conglomerate, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, is not surprising owing to the ideological rift already existing between some of its key members. Senior Hurriyat (M) leader, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat sees the apparent shift in Pakistan’s stance as a change for good. “Change is a must. Change changes us,” says Bhat, who has come in for sharp criticism from several separatist leaders after making controversial remarks about the relevance of United Nations resolutions on Kashmir issue. He believes Pakistan is a sovereign state and such states have power to change strategies. “Dialogue between two nuclear powers indicates that there is a realization that it is time to rise up from egos and rigidness. And once the two nations come closer, it will lead to peace and once peace prevails, issues would be resolved,” says Bhat. The senior Hurriyat (M) leader opines that once the two countries resolve the issues like trade, visa etc, time will come when they will realize that it was time to resolve the main issue of Kashmir as well. “Kashmir is such a sensitive issue as it can’t be resolved overnight. India and Pakistan have a right to think about their economies.” On the contrary, Democratic Freedom Party chief and another senior Hurriyat (M) member, Shabir Ahmed Shah is of the opinion that Pakistan should not change its position on Kashmir. “They have been our political, moral and diplomatic support for the last 65 years. I hope that will continue. Our meeting with Pakistan Foreign Secretary in New Delhi was fruitful as we were promised that there will be no change in the basic stand of Pakistan,” reveals Shah. He further says that if at all Pakistan drags its feet from its historic stand, Kashmir struggle won’t die. “Ours is an indigenous struggle which will continue with or without Pakistan’s support,” he asserts. The opinion of Shah, a key member of Hurriyat (M), has more proximity to Hurriyat (G) chief, Syed Ali Geelani than his own conglomerate fellow, Abdul Gani Bhat. According to Geelani, India continues to stick to its rigid stand while Pakistan too seems to have changed its line. “There is no question of forgetting the past. History is important for every struggle and India and Pakistan can’t forget history as their birth is related to history of division,” says Geelani. “It is unfortunate but the endless sacrifices offered by people of Kashmir will keep the issue alive till it is resolved. History of many nations is witness that oppressor falls before the nation that offers sacrifices,” the Hurriyat (G) chief adds. Similarly, JKLF chairman, Yasin Malik minced no words in expressing disappointment with India and Pakistan for “putting Kashmir on backburner”. While welcoming the visa pact between Delhi and Islamabad, senior NC leader, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal says Pakistan can never afford to sideline Kashmir as it would be suicidal for the country. Senior NC leader and MP, Mehboob Beg says Pakistan can’t keep Kashmiris in dark any more. “They should make their stance clear consistently. Even if they have problem with something called Musharraf formula, they should take the same to logical conclusion,” he says, adding that all stakeholders, except Geelani, had agreed to the four-point formula proposed by the former Pakistani president. PDP chief, Mehbooba Mufti says Kashmir should be the first beneficiary of all bilateral talks. “I hope better sense would prevail and Kashmir starts reaping the benefits of friendship between the two nations. Entering into a reconciliatory approach is alright, but the state that has faced the brunt should feel the change.”