Kashmir issue


In this article published in The Pioneer, G Parthasarthy- an ex-diplomat and ex-ambassador to Pakistan- analyses Kashmir situation.

Stop pandering to separatists
— G. Parthasarathy

The Manmohan Singh Government appears to believe that
separatists, armed, financed and trained across our
borders, can be won over by a policy of appeasement.
This was evident in the approach to ULFA in Assam,
which was let off the hook by an ill-advised ceasefire
when the Army had its cadre on the run. There is a
similar approach to the separatists of the “moderate”
All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Jammu & Kashmir.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference was established on
March 10, 1993, with Pakistani support, to give
political content to a demoralised and failing armed
uprising in Jammu & Kashmir. The Hurriyat leadership
supports Pakistan’s efforts to pursue its “unfinished
agenda of Partition” in Jammu & Kashmir. Its
Constitution, adopted in March 1993, says the Hurriyat
is committed to a “peaceful struggle” to obtain the
“right to self-determination” under UN Resolutions for
the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Members of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference have
remained close to terrorist groups that are members of
the ISI-sponsored United Jihad Council in
Muzaffarabad. If Syed Ali Shah Geelani uses the
Hizb-ul Mujahideen to enforce his writ through
terrorist violence, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is familiar
with Al Umar Mujahideen led by Mushtaq Zargar – a
serial killer released during the infamous Kandahar
hijacking. The Hurriyat Conference is derogatorily
referred to as the “Hartal Conference” because, duly
backed by the guns of terrorists, it regularly calls
for hartals and bandhs.

The Hurriyat, which describes itself the “sole” and
“authentic” voice of the aspirations of the people of
Jammu & Kashmir, has primarily served as the
mouthpiece for the Pakistan Government and as the
political arm of the terrorists sponsored by ISI.
Pakistan has obtained an “Observer” status for the
Hurriyat in the Organisation of Islamic Conference,
providing the Hurriyat leadership access to leaders of
Islamic countries. Knowing its limited electoral
support and given the disunity in its ranks, the
Hurriyat has never contested elections.

Apologists of the Hurriyat claim that the organisation
split, with the Mirwaiz leading the “moderates” and
Geelani the “hardliners” because of differences over
their responses to Gen Pervez Musharraf’s four-point
proposal on Jammu & Kashmir. The real reasons for the
split, however, lie in developments in Pakistan when
Gen Musharraf and Amir of the Jamat-e-Islami Qazi
Hussain Ahmed fell apart. Geelani toed the line
advocated by the Qazi, who opposed Gen Musharraf’s
proposals. While the General has been the mentor of
the “moderates” led by the Mirwaiz, Geelani has chosen
to regard the Qazi as his mentor. The main “threat”
that the Mirwaiz faces is from the cadre of the
Hizb-ul Mujahideen in Muzaffarabad.

When Mirwaiz Farooq left for Islamabad, he assumed
pretensions of being the “bridge” between New Delhi
and Islamabad and also between people in Jammu &
Kashmir on both sides of the LoC. He echoed Gen
Musharraf’s proposals and let the cat out of the bag
by revealing that these proposals were for an
“interim” and not “final” resolution of the issue of
Jammu & Kashmir. He was evidently advised by Gen
Musharraf to set the stage for a “ceasefire” in Jammu
& Kashmir by calling on the militants to end their
armed struggle. Those in Pakistan backing Qazi Hussain
Ahmad’s approach called Mirwaiz a “traitor” and the
“Hamid Karzai of Kashmir”. Feeling the political heat,
Pakistan’s Foreign Office distanced itself from the
Mirwaiz, claiming that what he had said constituted
his personal views and not the views of the Pakistan
Government.

Desperate to avoid the wrath of the jihadis who could
threaten his life, the Mirwaiz met Mushtaq Zargar –
the one terrorist leader on whom he could rely. This
could not have happened without ISI facilitation, as
Pakistan has officially claimed that it is not aware
of Zargar’s whereabouts. At this meeting, he also met
“area commanders” of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and the
Jaish-e-Mohammed – terrorist organisations banned
internationally under UN Security Council Resolution
1373. Mirwaiz Farooq has remained ambiguous about
these meetings; he, however, did not deny they took
place. Thus, despite Gen Musharraf’s protestations, it
is obvious that the infrastructure of terrorism is
alive and kicking in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)
and that the ISI is actively assisting these terrorist
outfits.

The Hurriyat delegation met political leaders in PoK,
but avoided meeting with leaders from the
Shia-dominated Northern Areas as they would have
spoken differently about the repression they face. The
Mirwaiz also assumed the role of organising meetings
between political leaders in Jammu & Kashmir and those
in PoK, after his meeting with Sardar Atique Ahmad
Khan the “Prime Minister” of PoK. All such meetings
will inevitably be under the patronage of the
Government of Pakistan and the ISI. Gen Musharraf
obviously wishes to use his protégés to play the
leading role in promoting an intra-Kashmiri dialogue,
which can then proceed on terms set by him. New Delhi
seems to have given the impression that it would not
be averse to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference
playing such a role.

While the leaders of mainstream political parties like
the National Conference have watched from the
sidelines, the Hurriyat has assumed such airs of
importance that it will not condescend to meet anyone
other than the Prime Minister. The Hurriyat has to be
formally told that before it seeks political level
meetings, it should first seek to interact with the
Union Government’s interlocutor for Jammu & Kashmir,
Mr NN Vohra. Second, it should be made clear to the
Hurriyat that there can be no high-level political
contacts in New Delhi till it participates in the
roundtable discussion that has been initiated by the
Prime Minister with a wide cross-section of political
and public opinion in Jammu & Kashmir.

New Delhi should also firmly inform the Hurriyat
leadership that it will not allow the separatists to
assume any role in inviting people like Sardar Atique
Ahmad and other political leaders from PoK and the
Northern Areas across the LoC. This is a role that has
to be played at an appropriate time by the Chief
Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, in consultation with
political leaders in the State Assembly, with due
clearance from the Union Government.

Finally, there can be no question of any “ceasefire”
in Jammu & Kashmir till the infrastructure of
terrorism across the LoC is dismantled and militants
who have crossed the border lay down their arms. The
nation paid a heavy price for the ill-advised “Ramzan
Ceasefire” in November 2000.

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