At Times, Pakistan's Stand On Kashmir Becomes 'indecisive And Unpredictable,' Says Angry Geelani

17 July 2015
Firstpost
Sameer Yasir

New Delhi: The relations between India and Pakistan have gone steadily downhill after that brief moment of cheer experienced at Ufa but senior separatist leader and chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Syed Ali Geelani isn't a happy man. His decision to boycott the Eid-i-Milan function of Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi on July 21 remains in place despite the resumption of hostilities. This is perhaps for the first time that Geelani, arguably the most popular Hurriyat leader in Kashmir, will boycotted a function held by Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi where the efforts at uniting the disarrayed Hurriyat Conference and the resumption of dialogue process between India and Pakistan are expected to dominate the proceedings. Geelani told FirstPost on Friday that the leadership in Pakistan 'sometimes' gets diverted about the Kashmir issue and the country's stand becomes 'indecisive and unpredictable'. 'To tell them (Pakistan) that there are emotions attached to what they do, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat has decided to boycott the function. The Kashmir issue is hanging in air from last 64 years. Pakistan has fought three wars for us; they have also suffered because of us. It is the only nation which stands by the people of Kashmir. There are emotions attached to what they do, so Pakistan is not in a position that they can ignore us,' Geelani told FirstPost. The function will, however, see the participation of moderate Hurriyat and its constituents as well as Democratic Freedom Party led by Shabir Ahmad Shah. Shahid-ul-Islam, the spokesperson of Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference said they will attend the function in New Delhi. 'We will attend the function but as a mark of protests, our leaders won't eat anything. We will convey our displeasure to the Pakistani High Commissioner over the omission of Kashmir in the recently issued joint statement. We believe that no progress on Kashmir is possible unless India and Pakistan come closer to each other for a better understanding,' he said. Geelani's decision to boycott the function is seen as sending a deft signal to Pakistani establishment that he won't change his stance on Kashmir. Although Geelani has been personally favouring the merger of J&K with Pakistan, his political ideology has changed over the years, especially after the 2008 unrest, as he has been of late demanding India and Pakistan to hold a referendum in the state. 'Pakistan would like to see a change in his attitude on Kashmir, given that the present government in Pakistan is pro-active on Kashmir. But he has emerged as the most popular leader post-2008 unrest. Any change in his stance would be seen here among the people as a 'sellout'. Ultimately, his non-participation in the function will render the upcoming dialogue process into a futile exercise, if he stays away,' political scientist, Noor Mohammad Baba, who teaches at Central University of Kashmir, told Firstpost. On the sidelines of SCO summit in Ufa, Russia, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan shook hands and later issued a joint statement, calling for resumption of dialogue process to resolve 'all outstanding issues'. Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif also extended an invitation to Modi, seeking his participation in SAARC summit that will be held in Islamabad next year. While Modi accepted the invite and the acrimony between the two countries may fade away in coming months and years, Geelani may become a stumbling block in evolving a consensus on Kashmir issue. He became one of the reasons for the failure of Agra Summit where the two countries almost arrived on a deal on Kashmir and his recent past suggests that he may not enter into a dialogue process unless both India and Pakistan accept J&K as a 'disputed territory', which is highly unlikely. Sheikh Showkat, a law professor at the Central University of Kashmir, believes that the decision taken by Geelani is 'symbolic' in nature, 'Given the fact that Nawaz Sharif government has opted for a more proactive policy on Kashmir, it would have been appropriate for leadership to attend the function and convey their resentment there. It is a routine affair,' he said. The PDP-led government in J&K is hopeful of making a breakthrough. The party has been sending emissaries to Geelani to convince him on participating in dialogue. 'We have already conveyed to Geelani saheb that our government will do whatever it takes to bring about a lasting peace in the state. Our government is hopeful that he will wake up to the changed realities of the global geo-politics and he will consider moving away from his rigid stance,' a senior PDP leader, who didn't want to be named, told Firstpost.