The Hurriyat and its antics

(See also gaashonline.com, and their homepage).

By K.N. Pandita – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s second roundtable on Kashmir is scheduled for May 2006 in Srinagar; the first took place at New Delhi in February last.

No representative of the separatist groups, except Hashim Qureshi had participated in the New Delhi meet. They had announced their boycott in advance.

Was there any outcome from the first roundtable? This question has neither been specifically asked nor answered. Nevertheless the rhetoric that the deck cannot be cleared in one go is the classical escape route for the official spokesperson.

The “moderate” group of APHC did not participate in the first roundtable. Its senior echelons reportedly detest being treated at par with other indigenous groups. In a somewhat subdued tone, the Mir Waiz has hinted at this objection.

Any reaction other than a boycott to the Indian Prime Minister’s invitation to a roundtable causes serious embarrassment to the “moderate” Hurriyat faction. Their chagrin is that while the Pakistan President gives them exclusive interviews the Indian Prime Minister invites “all and sundry” to his conference.

This pretext does not hold water. The APHC is not so naïve as not to differentiate between an elected prime minister answerable to the parliament and the people and a self-sponsored president answerable to none.

The APHC will always shun participation in any roundtable. The reason is simple. What does it stand for? If it wants azaadi, that is not acceptable to Pakistan. If it opts for Pakistan, that is tantamount to betraying its own conscience, the people and the martyrs of Kashmir.

This is a quite an intriguing psyche to explain. The Hurriyat has been hammering the demand of tripartite meeting ever since the process of talking began among the concerned parties. Hurriyat’s grouse that its senior representatives were disallowed permission to travel to “Azad Kashmir” and talk to their counterparts has long been removed.

That chapter stands closed. Despite giving an undertaking to the Indian authorities that they would not travel beyond the borders of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir, Hurriyat leaders took a unilateral decision and went all the way to meet with General Pervez Musharraf in the name of tripartite meeting. The Indian authorities overlooked this breach of trust.

The Hurriyat leaders travel all the way from Srinagar to Islamabad to knock at the door of the Pakistan President and seek his blessings. But when the Indian Prime Minister invites them to talks, it announces its boycott and distances from tripartite dialogue process.

Yet another embarrassment for the Hurriyat is that of proving its credentials as genuine representatives of separatist groups. The Hurriyat boycotted two previous assembly elections. Those were excellent opportunities for the dissidents and separatists to grab power through legal means and then have their say. Its boycott was a fraud on the people of Kashmir.

It is not true that the Hurriyat would not have polled significantly had it participated in the elections. But the problem before the leadership was what its precise agenda was? Azaadi, or Pakistan or India or what? It would have faced a crisis had it opted for participation in those elections. It is, therefore, clear that the Hurriyat will neither participate in any election nor come to a roundtable for talks. It has to maintain its dubious stance as long as it can exploit the gullibility of innocent Kashmiri people.

If the Hurriyat does not want to fight elections under Indian management, what alternative does it propose in that case? For a long time the Hurriyat leadership harangued Kashmiris by assuring them that it has its own formula for solution of Kashmir issue. In Islamabad, it announced that it would put its formula on the table after its meeting with General Musharraf. Immediately after that meeting, the official spokesman in Islamabad announced General Musharraf’s six-zone formula. The Hurriyat leadership rushed to declare in a press conference in Islamabad that the General’s formula was exactly what they had envisaged. They hardly realized that the General had made their position more vulnerable.

Assuming that Hurriyat goes by the formula of General Musharraf, and then in that case what has it to say about the suppression of self-determination movement in Gilgit and Baltistan? Why has it not a single member of those areas in its structure? What again would be its stand in regard to the verdict of the AK High Court on the status of Northern Areas? Hurriyat never clarified its position on these issues. It never sought a clarification from General Musharraf whether his government was prepared to nullify the dubious Karachi agreement that allowed integration of Northern Areas into Pakistan territory.

The time has come when the masses of people in Kashmir need to put questions to Hurriyat. The people have a right to know the destiny of their future generations. The Hurriyat is on the horns of dilemma but it is the people who have to take their own decision.

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