Prof. Bhat’s pragmatism

By K.N. Pandita

Many Kashmir watchers are mystified why Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat is not taking recourse to pragmatism in playing Kashmir politics. His is generally called the moderate faction as against the hard-line Geelani faction. If it is really “moderate” one may say it is better done than said. It needs to demonstrate that it has the potential of making independent and objective assessment of changing contours of Kashmir politics. Hurriyat (M) politics has been in sync with Pakistan’s Kashmir policy ever since Hurriyat came into existence in 1992. In between, so many things of international importance and consequences happened that have had tremendous bearing on Kashmir situation. There was a time when the US almost joined her voice with that of Pakistan on Kashmir.    

There was a time when international community found meaning in what Pakistan presented about Kashmir. The Hurriyat, in true spirit of Kashmirian characteristics, thought it a welcome step for a big country like the US to fight for her the “war of independence”. Hurriyatis were optimistic that they had successfully moulded world opinion. That is what its managers like Ghulam Nabi Fai and others of his ilk in London and Brussels had made it believe. But the big incident of 9/11 and its subsequent fallout on global level blew the siren of danger for the jihadi terrorist movement all over the world including Kashmir. The fact of the matter is that APHC never felt really comfortable with its stand in the aftermath of 9/11. General Pervez Musharraf declared Pakistan on the side of the US in war on terrorism. This punctured Hurriyat’s balloon. More sensible and less emotional elements in Hurriyat (M) could read the writing on the wall. Yet in a bid of willing suspension of disbelief, less moderates in the group continued to toy with the idea of gun playing the decisive role. That did not happen because war on terror sucked Pakistan deep into the vortex of destabilization and internal turmoil. Pakistan served her national interests in joining hands with the Americans against the jihadis. Obviously for her, Kashmir had to be abandoned to back burner. Additionally, there followed Musharraf’s antics about peaceful solution of Kashmir tangle through five-region module. Part of this module was rejection of UN Security Council Resolutions of 1948 and 1949. Ali Shah Geelani spat venom against Musharraf indicating the frustration that had seized the Hurriyat (both factions).

A close analysis of the statements and assertions of the Mirwaiz about various aspects of Kashmir issue after 9/11 will show inconsistency and changeability if not contradiction. As the TTP accelerated its anti-government activities and the Pakistan Army, for reasons of its own, embarked on a barrage of artillery fire on the strongholds of these jihadis in Waziristan region, Hurriyat recognized moral and tactical set back to the movement. Pakistani rulers clearly told Mirwaiz that they had to mollify India in order to ensure that Pakistan’s eastern frontier touching on India remained peaceful. When India conveyed through Americans her preparedness to dispel the fears of Pakistan, Islamabad withdrew several brigades from her eastern border to be re-deployed in fight against the TTP. Mirwaiz thought it prudent to soften his anti-India belligerency and began to talk more of economic and developmental issues about Kashmir.

The question is not whether yes or not Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat, a veteran leader of the Hurriyat (M), has turned spoilsport. It is a question of understanding the ground situation in realistic manner and reacting to it as circumstances demand. Not only Prof. Bhat, even another stalwart of the Hurriyat and former President Maulana Abbas Ansari, the Shia leader, was the first to openly ventilate his differences of opinion on certain issues and the Hurriyat sidelined him. Political pundits had smelt rat and knew that the Hurriyat was heading towards a crisis of conviction. Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat has mustered courage and being faithful to his conscience, has said what he thinks should be said. Interestingly he cast aspersions on the validity of UN Resolutions in a public rally in his hometown Boteung, not far from Sopore, the hot-bed of Kashmir militancy, and more importantly, the hometown of hardliner Ali Shah Geelani. Sopore, at one time, has also been a bastion of Congress when veteran leader Ghulam Rasool Kar was the MLA from Sopore Congress and also a minister. No less fervent Congressite was the clan of Prof. Abdul Ghani. Had Congress been pragmatist and gifted with rare far sight, it would never have left Prof. a lumpen for quite some time before he took a decision of his own. Will his voice be heard by those who are dazed by Pakistan’s unsolicited advice? With Prof. Bhat’s pragmatist vision and re-think, the Hurriyat stands to gain much and lose very little, rather nothing.

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