While going through the contents of Kashmir Observer some time ago my eye was caught by the following quote which made me chuckle:
Quote of the day
“It (split) has maliciously harmed the unity the people of Kashmir have achieved in the form of APHC.”
-Prof Abdul Ghani
Quote of the day! Was the split a surprise for the people of Kashmir? Now that we have started talking about uniformity of perspectives, let us have a look backwards. The widening rift in the structure of Hurriyat leadership sprung from their conflicting political ideologies and their differing world views. The crisis that started with the much-talked-of “proxy candidate controversy” emerged as a “personality clash” between Syed Ali Geelani and late Abdul Ghani Lone. Every now and then somebody would come up with a “big” question about the “issue”: “Kashmir issue- an unfinished agenda of partition!” “Is there a meeting ground?” “Is there a solution?” “How to unlock Kashmir deadlock?” Hmmmm!
After a dozen years and two the All Parties (all parties?) Hurriyat Conference has so far proven itself incompetent in extending its credentials and exhibit sincerity and responsibility towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Lately, Pakistan’s political and religious groups had “regretted” the split as “dangerous for the cause of Kashmir’s struggle”. I also had a question (another question in the fore?) which was: did the rift within the APHC actually create a “serious dent in the morale” of Kashmiri people, or that the dent has been already there for quite a few years now? Meanwhile the recently elected Hurriyat Chairman Maulana Abbas Ansari was accused for his “dovish” attitude towards “solving of Kashmir issue”. Now we are looking for wonders in days for a problem that we couldn’t solve in more than half of a century. Poor Maulana Saheb! On Sept 11, 2003 the government reviewed his security in the wake of militant threats. Meanwhile “New Delhi backed” politicians were held responsible for the split by Pakistan.
The ongoing fighting reached a stage where the members of the two factions of the APHC indulged in abusing each other crossing all limits of political etiquette and offering no possible resolution. Here somebody proposed that the APHC needed to prove its sincerity by keeping the “movement alive” and thus stopping the public from coming out to get “round the leaders” so their sacrifices won’t be wasted “just because of unreliable and myopic leadership”. (I will not comment on the recent remarks of some militant leader stating that the “militant struggle” is the “only solution” to the Kashmir question). Our “firebrand politician” of a Geelani, a strong proponent of Pakistan and belonging to the platform of the Jamaat-i-Islami, bases his political ideology on religious foundations calling the Kashmir resistance a “religious struggle”. On the other hand, late Abdul Ghani Lone claimed to be a liberal nationalist struggling for the independence of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The two diagonally opposing viewpoints have been trying hard to “re-define” the Kashmir struggle in the changing political scenarios, challenged by new ground realities. Former APHC chairman Professor Abdul Ghani Bhat believes that “taking maximal positions will take the Kashmir issue nowhere” and that “one has to reach at compromised positions” by which he probably meant a “negotiated settlement” through a “dialogue” between India and Pakistan (and possibly people of Kashmir?). He apparently did not elaborate on his “program” though. In other words, should we face and accept what is so obvious on the ground? As Prof. Ghani had pointed out, people know that Kashmiris want “freedom”, but different people seem to have different interpretations of the term “freedom” in the present changing political scenario of Kashmir: that is to say, freedom from what, of what sort and nature?
The people of Kashmir have witnessed an endless game of numerous muscle-flexing procedures of India and Pakistan interspersed with occasions of “peace process” gestures for “improving bilateral ties” and probably initiating some kind of talks on “the issue”. As part of the spectators of their recent spur of romance, the people of Kashmir question the sincerity of both India and Pakistan wondering whether the two countries are playing the game of diverting the attention of the international community from the Kashmir issue by engaging in gimmicks of “friendly” invitations back and forth or that they are actually sincere in their efforts.
We have been talking about “talks” for long. Meanwhile, the breakaway members of the split APHC have been busy deciding whether to accept or reject the talks offer put forth by the government of India. Hard times!
© Sadaf Munshi, Dec. 5, 2003, the daily Kashmir Observer (Srinagar).