Hurriyat’s Pak sojourn

Will New Delhi now reciprocate?



Amid criticism from various quarters, Hurriyat Conference (M)  has concluded its Pakistan sojourn with a claim that it has managed to “break  ice” on Kashmir— garnered “huge support” from all political parties in Pakistan and those in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) for accepting Kashmiris as “main stakeholders in the dialogue process.”
Before the visit the Hurriyat held threadbare discussions with a cross section of society including some Kashmiri Pandits at its party headquarters in Srinagar to formulate a strategy on how to start a new journey towards “Kashmir settlement.” Chairman of the amalgam, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said that the crux of holding feedback sessions was to forge a strategy with the active support of people. “Our job is to persuade the Pakistan leadership to come out of the bilateral mode and to accept Kashmiris as the legitimate party to the dispute. This is our policy and we are going with this agenda,” Mirwaiz told the participants of last feedback session in Srinagar.
He went on to say that no solution can be slapped on Kashmiris by India and Pakistan. After holding more than six rounds of feedback sessions with the people from all walks of life, the amalgam leaders packed their bags to leave for Pakistan on December 12, four days early, owing to the weather advisory issued in Srinagar.
Senior Hurriyat (M) leader Prof Abdul Gani Bhat was more vocal than Mirwaiz in the feedback sessions held in Srinagar. “There is no alternative to dialogue. We are going to Pakistan as owners not slaves. When they (opponents of dialogue) say nobody can sell Kashmir, this itself means that we are the owners,” he said in an obvious reference to the Hurriyat Conference (G). The Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani had launched a series of veiled attacks on the Hurriyat (M’s) Pakistan visit, terming it as a “sightseeing exercise and a photo session.”
Geelani’s statement had pinched Bhat, who launched a counter attack by saying that, “Those opposing our visit and dialogue should show how to achieve the goal without talking. We accept Right to Self Determination, but they should tell us how this goal can be achieved without talking.”
After reaching Pakistan, the Mirwaiz and his team received a rousing reception at the Islamabad airport. “We feel as if we have to come to home away from home,” Mirwaiz told the media. And then the exercise began. The team Hurriyat began their “mission Pakistan” from PaK—Muzafarabad, where they received overwhelming support from the top political leadership, both in power and those out of power.
In Muzaffarabad, Mirwaiz was not only a separatist leader but also a top religious clerk of Kashmir, given his blood relation with the late Mirwaiz Muhammad Yosuf Shah (RA). The young cleric was urged to inaugurate the Forensic Laboratory of a Medical College named after his father, Late Mirwaiz Molvi Muhammad Farooq, in Muzafarrabad. After holding threadbare discussions with the PaK leadership, Mirwaiz, from the soil of Muzaffarrabad, called for “unification of J&K as it existed before 1947.”
“Not just me, but the entire political leadership in Muzafarabad supported my call. They too want to see the entire J&K as a single unit,” Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir over phone from Muzaffarabad on December 18.  On Muzzafarabad soil, Mirwaiz blamed both, India and Pakistan for wedging a divide between the divided parts of Kashmir. “It is so unfortunate that since last 65 years, neither India, nor Pakistan has allowed the Kashmiris to meet freely. The Berlin wall has to collapse…,” Mirwaiz said.
After spending two days in PaK, the amalgam leaders air-dashed to the Pakistan capital, Islamabad. There, they met the President Asif Ali Zardari, the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, the Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar and all the political leadership in opposition. The Hurriyat remained glued to its home exercise— to seek a legitimate inclusion of Kashmiris in the dialogue process. Mirwaiz and his team also met leaders like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder, Imran Khan, who, of late, seems to be emerging as a prominent leader in Pakistan. The Hurriyat team also met Jamaat-e-Islami leaders.  Interestingly the Hurriyat amalgam received support for Right to Self determination of Kashmiris from Pakistan Prime Minister to Jamaat leaders.
“We talked to all and are quite satisfied with the visit,” Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir from New Delhi after concluding his ten-day long Pakistan tour. “Pakistan has agreed to accept Kashmir issue as a trilateral one. This is what we wanted. Now the entire onus lies on India. The ball is in New Delhi’s court now,” he said. Mirwaiz will arrive in Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid on Friday, where he would talk about the outcome of Pakistan visit in detail during his Friday sermon.
While there are many takers for the Hurriyat’s strategy of visiting Pakistan, those who are unmoved and unimpressed by this exercise are also in good numbers. “The past regimes in Pakistan led by General Ayoub Khan, Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf were dismantled due to Kashmir issue. It is not that Pakistan doesn’t support trilateral dialogue. It was always in their agenda and will continue to be so, no matter whether Hurriyat visits Pakistan or not,” said Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches Law at Central University of Kashmir.
Prof. Gul Muhammad Wani, who teaches Political Science at Kashmir University, says the Hurriyat (M) should do more groundwork in J&K over finding ways to resolve Kashmir. “There should be more such visits in future not just by the Hurriyat (M) but by other political formations of the State. Plus, lines of communication should become visible as far as the engagement with India is concerned,” he says.
Even some Hurriyat (M) leaders criticized the Mirwaiz’s Pakistan visit on the pretext that the decision was a unilateral one and leaders like Shabir Ahmed Shah and Nayeem Ahmed Khan were not consulted and taken into confidence before the Pak visit. Given the political developments that unfolded since Hurriyat’s Pakistan visit, analysts say the process has to be reciprocated by New Delhi to achieve any results on ground. If the Government of India decides to cold shoulder the Hurriyat (M), who say that they won’t go with a begging bowl before New Delhi, the analysts believe that Pakistan visit might turn out to be another futile exercise.
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Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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