Geelani Holds Olive Branch, Backs Vajpayee Formula For K-issue

18 June 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Azhar Qadri

Srinagar: Separatist Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Wednesday held an olive branch to New Delhi as he praised former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and advocated the resolution of the Kashmir issue 'on the basis of humanity'. This marked an unprecedented change in his terminology, that had remained fixated on the United Nations' resolution. Geelani was speaking at a blood donation camp organised by his party, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. He quoted and praised Vajpayee for proposing a resolution of the Kashmir issue within the 'ambit of humanity'. 'We heard from the Prime Minister for the first time that the Kashmir issue should be resolved on the basis of humanity. These remained mere words and no action was taken,' Geelani said. In 2000, then Prime Minister Vajpayee had proposed to resolve the Kashmir issue within the 'ambit of humanity', which was a bold departure from the stated position of resolving the Kashmir issue within the framework of the Constitution. The mellowing of Geelani's position and rhetoric is a possible olive branch to Narendra Modi, the second Prime Minister of a BJP-led NDA government after Vajpayee. On April 18, Geelani claimed that two emissaries from Modi, then prime ministerial candidate, had met him in New Delhi and tried to establish contact for talks on the Kashmir issue. It was for the first time in recent years that Geelani, considered to be toeing a hawkish and hard line on Kashmir, had signalled distancing himself from his long-held position of implementing the United Nations' resolution and plebiscite as the only resolution of the Kashmir issue. Geelani spoke a rare phraseology that revolved around a humanistic approach to issues, repeatedly using the word 'humanity' and quoting a religious phrase that 'all humans of the world are family members'. 'Issues should be resolved on the basis on humanity, but no effort is being made to resolve the issues being faced on the basis on humanity,' he said. Geelani's advocacy of Vajpayee's formula as a resolution of the Kashmir issue was the first sign of his softening stance. Geelani's radical politics and refusal to accept a 'compromise' on the Kashmir issue had strengthened his influence in the region, but kept him on the margins of diplomatic efforts to arrive at a resolution of the Kashmir issue. The separatist leader has so far publicly distanced himself from any diplomatic efforts by India and Pakistan to find a resolution of the Kashmir issue even though his moderate counterparts had held several rounds of talks and backed the four-point solution proposed by Pervez Musharaf. Geelani had so far strongly opposed any resolution, including the four-point formula, which overrode the implementation of the United Nations' resolution. Hawk goes soft: * Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani advocates resolution of Kashmir issue 'on the basis of humanity' * Says Vajpayee was first leader to propose resolution of Kashmir issue within the ambit of humanity * It is first time in recent years that the Hurriyat leader has softened his stance * Geelani had so far distanced himself from diplomatic efforts by India and Pakistan