By K.N. Pandita
Seven member-delegation of APHC led by Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq began their week long Pakistan visit on December 15. Shabbir Shah, supposed to be one of the teammates declined to travel on Indian passport.
At Lahore, the first leg of the team’s itinerary, Mirwaiz labeled Kashmir a”trilateral” and not bilateral issue. He wants Kashmiri representatives to be the third party to Indo-Pak dialogue. It was the refrain of his assertions in almost all meetings with the leadership across the border. He did not elaborate whom the Kashmiri representatives would represent.
Two-third of political space in Kashmir is grabbed by mainstream political parties. Hurriyat has been boycotting assembly elections.
More than 72 per cent voters were reported to have cast vote in previous elections. Maybe the Hurriyat itself wants to be the third party but peoples’ mandate is the pre-requisite. Where are the people and where is their mandate? No member of religious or ethnic or cultural minority is in the Hurriyat. Therefore Hurriyat is an exclusivist group of valley Muslims.
We have the minorities in the State; Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Bodhs. None of them is there. Then we have factions like Ahl-e Hadith, Ahmadiyeh, Salafi.etc More significantly, we have the Sunni Sufi orders like Naqshbandi, Qadiri, Suharwardi, Chasti and the Shia’ Sufi order of Nurbakhshiyeh. The last but not the least are the widely spread out shrine-worshippers cutting across different Sufi orders.
Even within the Hurriyat itself, the conglomerate of about 22 groups, there is deep set rivalry and divergence of opinion.
This summer, Hurriyat colleagues castigated Prof. Ghani Bhat for making some frank confessions like those who killed the father of Mirwaiz Umar (the leader of the delegation) were “our own people” — incidentally trained and armed by Pakistan— or that the “UN Resolutions were not implementable”.
Prior to him, Maulavi Abbas Ansari, leader of a small Shia faction had been sidelined for speaking against stone throwing vandals in Kashmir in 2008-9. He hibernated for quite some time before he was accepted back in the fold.
Maulana Fazl’r-Rahman’s advice that Hurriyat maintain unity among its members must have soured the taste of Hurriyat delegation.
Coming back to Mirwaiz’s “trilateral” antics, the question is who will represent whom if Kashmiri representatives are the third partner.
Mirwaiz has to decide whether he wants representation on religious or non-religious, factional or non-factional, regional or non-regional basis. If Hurriyat is to represent the people of the State under Indian control, who will represent the people under Pakistan control, Mirpuris or Gilgitis Baltistanis?
Which is the nationalist party in PoK and in Gilgit-Baltistan? If the people of PoK and Gilgit and Baltistan are also to be included in the third party, has Mirwaiz any ideas how will the Gilgit-Baltistan nationalist parties behave?
If protesting people of the valley want to be a party to Indo-Pak talks on Kashmir, why should not the people of Gilgit and Baltistan also be a party as they are protesting against Pakistan?
If in a plebiscite, as demanded by the Hurriyat, the verdict goes in favour of India, what will Hurriyat have to say to the wards of hundreds of thousands of “martyrs” lying in graveyards in the aftermath of armed uprising in Kashmir? Will not Islamic champions like Hafiz Saeed and their cohorts like LeT, Jaysh-e Muhammad, HuM, JKLF and other Pakistan-based militant outfits and the Islamic ummah, too, accuse Kashmiris of betrayal? Will Hurriyat identify the betrayers?
Almost all Pakistani leaders from President to PM, Foreign Minister, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee for Kashmir Maulana Fazlu’r-Rahman and many others orchestrated continuance of Pakistan’s promised help to the “struggle of Kashmiris for their rights.” Their acceptance of Mirwaiz’s demand of trilateral talks resonated only in feeble tone.
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf also said almost the same thing but not without rubbing salt into the wounds of his guests. He added that Pakistan wanted resolution of Kashmir issue according to UN resolutions, which, however, talk of only India and Pakistan as parties to the dispute.
In fairness, Pakistani officialdom and the Hurriyat (M) delegation both are playing to the gallery. Pakistan has raked up Kashmir issue and its commitment of “moral, psychological and diplomatic” support to Kashmir struggle at a time when general elections in Pakistan are round the corner. Invitation to Hurriyatis is a message to the Pakistani masses that Pakistan has not budged an inch from its known stand on Kashmir and Kashmir related militancy. This is good stuff for public consumption.
Pakistani politicians know their survival in politics is through the Kashmir tunnel. It is so because they know the inflammable material Kashmiris like to play with. To ordinary Pakistani, Kashmir issue is projected an Islamic issue.
But for the Hurriyat, there could be no better opportunity of reviving its shriveled profile and credibility after a big slump beginning with the liquidation of Osama bin Laden. Hurriyat has been in virtual stupor owing to fast developing events in the Muslim world such as the Arab Spring, the rise of TTP, Pakistan’s frontier war that has so far cost lives of over three thousand soldiers and the noose diving economy forcing Pakistan to sling beggar’s script and knock at the doors of international donors and benefactors. And pseudo nationalists lionize Pakistani “ghairat”.
Top echelons of armed militant leadership in Kashmir have been liquidated, more incomers will follow suit. Their ranks have shrunk fast. Hurriyat is torn between shrinking constituency and rising aspirations for legal sanctity. For one reason it has lost public support; it is bogged with confusing and unclear vision of future.
Thus in short, the visit of Hurriyatis is a game of give and take. Pakistani leadership sells to her voters the Kashmir question through the medium of Hurriyatis. And the Hurriyatis are desperate to hold by teeth, if they can, the faint semblance of their dissolving credibility.