By K.N. Pandita
Hurriyat’s meetings with Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi or the visiting Pakistani Foreign Ministers or other top dignitaries of that country are nothing new. Ever since New Delhi deviated from its long-stated policy of rejecting any interference in her internal affairs, particularly in the case of Kashmir dispute, it provided ever widening space to separatists of Kashmir to make them relevant to any Indo-Pak dialogue. By adopting grossly ill-advised state response to armed insurgency in Kashmir, New Delhi created a situation for itself that now looks straight into its eyeball. A government which allows separatist groups to meet freely with those who played prime role in providing them logistics, from advice to arms, is like a rudderless ship heading towards some disaster. Indian policy planners ludicrously call it the resilience of their democratic institutions. That is only an alibi for its indecisive and wavering Kashmir policy.
Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister, said to be her country’s soft face, emphasized on a new direction in Indo-Pak relationship that would relegate six decade long acrimony to dustbin. It is a noble and statesmanlike sentiment that we need in the context of current situation. But inviting Kashmiri Hurriyatis did not fit in this scheme of things. Pakistan is the sponsor and provider of Hurriyat organization — its ideology, logistics, funding and direction. As such, Pakistan itself represents them. What then was the wisdom of inviting them separately? Pakistani foreign office needs not to be convinced that Hurriyat’s “aazaadi” slogan is a mask for accession to Pakistan. After all, was not the slogan forged in the corridors of ISI?
The Hurriyatis demand “aazaadi” from India for the State of Jammu and Kashmir, for the achievement of which purpose they heartily welcome and host the armed terrorists raised in Pakistan and infiltrating into Kashmir. They met the Foreign Minister with the primary purpose of imploring her to accelerate armed infiltration and subversion in Kashmir on the basis of assurances of sustained logistical support from Hurriyat and its components. This is proved by the fact that the Hurriyatis demand withdrawal of India troops from Kashmir but they never demand withdrawal of armed Pakistani terrorists from Kashmir or their laying down of arms. Depletion in the ranks of foreign terrorists operating in Kashmir is a cause of serious concern for the Hurriyat.
On the face of it, Pak Foreign Minister’s invitation to them means indirect expression of her “concern” for the dissenting voices in Kashmir. If this is the logic guiding Pakistan’s foreign policy, then the question arises why Pakistan Foreign Minsiter did not invite the dissenters of Gilgit and Baltistan also to ascertain their grievances and demands. Why did she confine it only to the valley-based dissenters? And if this logic is to be the principle of a sovereign state’s foreign policy then the Indians, too, can and should openly exercise the option in regard to the dissenting elements in Gilgit-Baltistan or Baluchistan: Gilgit-Baltistan more importantly because it is part of the entire J&K State which has formally acceded to Indian Union but illegally occupied by Pakistan. Their political rights, identity, culture and ethnicity are at stake. If India does not respond, we shall lament ineffectiveness of her policy towards Pakistan on Kashmir.
It is India’s large-heartedness to allow the Hurriyat to meet with the visiting Foreign Minister. New Delhi allowed it to happen, albeit reluctantly, but with the sincere desire of realistically giving a new direction to bilateral relations. Pakistan or Kashmir separatists should not take it otherwise. That is why our External Affairs Ministry did put out a mild note of disapproval. Hurriyat’s (M) claims that only they represent the people of Kashmir, is not tenable. They boycott assembly elections, they boycott talks with interlocutors, they never denounce armed insurgency and innocent killings, spurn all offers of joining democratic process, make the mosque its political platform, give frequent calls for strikes and hartals, whip up hate campaign against the Indian Army and the State, and swear by exclusivist ideology. Yet they claim to be the representatives of Kashmiris. Does all this suit Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister? If yes, then Pakistan needs to revise its anti-terrorism policy and not cry foul of home-bred terror. When the Hurriyat refuses to talk to New Delhi representatives but is frantic for a meeting with any Tom, Dick and Harry from across the border, what does it show? It shows that undoubtedly there is bonhomie of sorts.