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Internal differences have forced
Hurriyat to keep a low profile

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | June 19, 2003 03:58 IST

The All-Parties Hurriyat Conference has been keeping a low profile of late trying to bury the differences within the separatist conglomerate.

At present, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front appears to be the only constituent, which is politically active.

Its leader Mohammad Yasin Malik has initiated a campaign to obtain as many signatures as possible on a memorandum seeking the inclusion of locals in any future dialogue between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

The differences are now centered on the continuation of the People's Conference in the Hurriyat.

Hardliners within the conglomerate, led by the Jamaat-e-Islami, believe the People's Conference favours a peaceful settlement to the Kashmir problem.

Recently, in a bid to force the issue, the Jamaat said it would recall its representative Syed Ali Shah Geelani from the Hurriyat executive, but backed down later.

Geelani, known for his pro-Pakistan views, is opposed to 'soft peddlers' within the Hurriyat.

Interestingly, Yasin Malik, who till some time back was considered a 'softliner', has been lending crucial support to Geelani's demand to expel the People's Conference from the Hurriyat executive.

Geelani has been accusing the party, founded by late Abdul Gani Lone, of 'having fielded proxy candidates during the last assembly election in the valley'.

"How can you preach secession and at the some time participate in elections held by the Indian government?" he demanded to know.

The Hurriyat leadership is unwilling to confront this issue, preferring instead to bury internal differences without discussion.

"We have no problems. There are differences of opinion between constituents. This cannot be considered a confrontation," Hurriyat chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat told rediff.com.

"We are one," he insists.

Insiders say the Hurriyat will not take a decision on the expulsion of the People's Conference, at least not until it has a new chairman.

The election for the post is due soon.

The People's Conference recently held a public meeting in Srinagar, apparently to demonstrate its strength to the Hurriyat leadership.

Another reason for the Hurriyat's silence could be the developments at the international level.

The cross-border terrorism in J&K figured in Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's discussions with US officials during his recent visit to that country.

Secondly, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is due to visit the US, where he might be told that cross-border terrorism has to end.

In the midst of these high-profile visits, the Indian and Pakistani leadership is engaged in a highly publicised war of words even as both countries embarked on a peace process.

The Hurriyat may be waiting for the air to clear before commenting on recent developments or embarking on any fresh initiative.

More reports from Jammu and Kashmir

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