Hurriyat and the Pandits

K.N. Pandita, July 14, 2004, New York (by e-mail) – This is with reference to M.L. Kak’s Kashmiri Pandits to boycott APHC meeting (The Tribune.13 July 2005). Following Track II diplomacy, Kashmir related Indo-Pak talks are reported to be at an advanced stage.

Now the talks are upgraded to the level of the governments in New Delhi, Islamabad and Srinagar: Lately, the Hurriyat (A) is also involved in the inquadrilateral interface.

None of the four participants ever considered it necesssary to take the Pandits on board as if they never belong to the valley. New Delhi and Srinagar talk only of their “return”, an ideas as bankrupt and hypocritical as it can be. In their political chemistry, the Pandits, not being a vote bank, are a non-entity. However, the Hurriyat (A), following their meeting with and advice by President Musharraf, has, for the first time since its formation in 1992, said about visiting the Pandit camps and talking to them. Even if belated, it is a gesture at least better than that of the “popular” governments in New Delhi and Srinagar.

The Pandits have a case recognised by the international community though deliberately underrated by the governments in New Delhi and Srinagar. Since the Hurriyat has offered to talk to them, the Pandits should not miss the opportunity. They should avoid taking on themselves the onus of stonewalling an imagined breakthrough. Who does not know that the Hurriyat (A) neither accepts J&K’s accession to India nor the Indian Constitution. But when the popularly elected governments at the centre and in Srinagar are more than willing to talk to them, why should the Pandits pretend to be more loyal than the king? If they decline to talk, the Hurriyat will find an easy excuse to convince the sceptical General Musharraf of genuine representative character of their organization in the valley.

The Pandits need to adopt a pragmatic approach and forcefully place their case before the Hurriyat and the world. They should remember that the substance of what they talk to the Hurriyat in the proposed interface will receive interntional coverage. It will be a rare opportunity to tell the world what they are suffering as a religious minority. The Hurriyat has already lost one point vis-a-vis the Pandits ahead of its meeting with them. It is their recent statement that the Pandits ” made a mistake in leaving the valley and they played in the hands of the government meaning Governor Jagmohan”. General Musharraf is no naive not to note this typical Kashmiri cynicism of the Hurryatis.

The Pandits must ask the Hurriyat if they can differentiate between “Kashmir freedom struggle” and “Kahmir ethnic cleansing movement”. The Pandits must tell the Hurriyat that since they have been supporting secession because they want to get rid of the secular and democratic India as a matter of the right of self-determination, the Pandits, by the same token, stand for their homeland in Kashmir. All that Hurriyat can seriously talk to the Pandits in the the interface has to be the actual boundaries of the homeland territory proposed in their Margdarshan Resolution of 1991 and endorsed by the maximum majority of the Pandits. The Pandits have a moral duty to help the Hurriyat in moving forward towards the goal they have set forth for their movement and the Pandit Homeland has to be its logical conclusion.

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