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'Hurriyat isn't the sole representative of Kashmir'
April 16, 2005 13:22 IST
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders are expected to meet Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Sunday. Though the Government of India has extended an open invitation to the APHC for talks, the Hurriyat leaders have insisted they want to meet Musharraf first.
In an interview to a television channel, Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan said the Hurriyat is the sole representative of the Kashmiri people and that Pakistan has a different view of Kashmir's elected representatives.
The Hurriyat snub has evoked strong reactions in New Delhi. National Security Advisor M K Narayanan said the Hurriyat leaders were acting under pressure.
Former governor of Jammu and Kashmir Girish Chandra Saxena has dealt with Hurriyat leaders for many years. Here he paints Hurriyat's profile exclusively for rediff.com:
"Hurriyat doesn't have an agenda of its own. They are reflecting Pakistan's agenda and that is why Pakistan is saying that Hurriyat is the sole representative of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan is saying these things because they are sure of Hurriyat. They know Hurriyat will not go beyond their brief.
But having said that, I should say that they [the Hurriyat leaders] do have a following [in the Valley], but not the type they are projecting. They don't have a following in Jammu or Ladakh region. In the Valley also they have a following only in certain pockets.
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In one or two pockets of Srinagar, Sopore and Anantnag only Hurriyat influence exists. The Mirwaiz [APHC chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq] has influence only in some localities around the Jama Masjid in Srinagar. That is one of the reasons that they hesitate to take part in elections. We have our own assessment of their actual strength.
Even in the Valley they represent a limited section of political opinion. Indicative of this fact is that a fairly good election [the 2002 assembly election] took place in spite of their boycott and in spite of threats of violence from militants.
Hurriyat is not the sole representative of Kashmir or the Kashmiri people. A few people who are feeling left out or alienated, therein Hurriyat fits the bill.
And who will speak for Hurriyat? Sometime it is Bhat [former APHC chairman Professor Abdul Gani Bhat], sometimes it is the Mirwaiz and sometime Moulvi Ansari [former APHC chief Moulvi Abbas Ansari].
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When the Hurriyat was formed, they had declared that their struggle was against India. Once India's sway [in Kashmir] diminished, they had said, they would then define their relation with Pakistan. This theme formed the façade of a fragile unity.
All these years Hurriyat has been creating a perception of its exaggerated relevance, image and following.
Also note that Hurriyat does not control guns. They are scared of guns. They can't deliver peace of their own. They can deliver peace in Kashmir only through Pakistan's goodwill and through militants.
They want a place on high-table to give more elbow-room to Pakistan [in its negotiations with India]. India should have no illusions about it.
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A question must be asked -- who voted for the Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference in the last election. These people who voted for mainstream parties are obviously not with the Hurriyat.
I must confess that separatists elements do exist in Kashmir, you can't wish them away but they have lost their emotional content.
But having said that, I must add that the Hurriyat leaders are players in the political scene because some people are with them in some pockets and you cannot ignore them.
Some of them are promising types and intellectually well-endowed like [Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party] Shabbir Shah and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and [People's Conference chairman] Sajjad Lone. These leaders are dynamic and have tried to engage India. Some of them have realised that violence is futile. Indian State is too strong. India wants to engage them. India wants a sincere dialogue and meet the aspirations of the separatists.
India has never used heavy weaponry or tanks or helicopters or artillery in its fight against militants. India has done its best to minimise casualties and collateral damage.
In the last 14 years, 40,000 people have died in J&K, mostly killed by militants. Over 80 per cent of them were Muslims. So people are not killed on the basis of their religion. Three fourths of the casualties have been at the hands of the terrorists and others have died in police firing or in crossfiring.
Most Kashmiris have been killed by terrorists and all of them were innocent civilians. In 12 years around 20,000 terrorists have been killed and around 4000 paramilitary jawans, policemen and security personnel have died.
This also means there were around 20,000 Kalashnikovs, 1000 machine guns, 50,000 hand grenades, thousands of rocket launchers and around 30 tons of explosives in militant hands. This was the type of proxy war India faced in Kashmir.
In view of these deadly realities of Kashmir I would say it is simply not feasible, now or in future, to resolve Kashmir on the basis of a religious divide. Pakistan and Hurriyat should know that. Any person who wants to achieve something that is realistically possible will know this. This is not merely India's point of view. This is the reality of the situation today.
I am not saying that in view of these facts, the Kashmir issue should not be addressed. Even if there is no great logic, we can look into it.