The initiative taken by the All Party Hurriyat Conference on Jammu and Kashmir talks starting on Friday is seen by many in the valley as just replicating the New Delhi roundtable talks.
An all parties meeting has been convened by the visiting leaders of the APHC in Pakistan to discuss the four-point formula of President Musharraf and other solution roadmaps that have surfaced in the recent past. There is also a proposal to work out some kind of joint mechanism between the Hurriyat Conference and the leadership of the Pakistan controlled Kashmir.
APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had told Hindustan Times on Sunday that the visiting Hurriyat Conference leaders were talking to cross section of people and parties in Pakistan to devise some kind of workable solution. “As a first step, we are thinking of having some joint mechanism between the two sides that can suggest measures as to how to build on convergencies,” he had disclosed to HT.
"It is good that they are talking of end to armed struggle and resolving the issue through such peaceful means,” Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said at a rally hailing the changing stance of the Hurriyat Conference. But he regretted that the Hurriyat Conference could have picked up threads much before.
"There was an opportunity for them ( separatists) to attend the Round Table Conference in Delhi and Srinagar and contributed in the peace process, much earlier and at a much bigger platform," Azad said.
Health and Medical Education Minister Mangat Ram Sharma felt that it was now a belated step on the part of Hurriyat Conference. "Had they taken part in the RTCs, this step would have looked genuine."
The Jammu and Kashmir Government had made fervent efforts, especially on the eve of the second Round Table Conference on Kashmir in Srinagar, which was held on May 24-25 last year.
Azad had also facilitated a meeting of the Hurriyat Conference leaders with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on May 3. He had also got incorporated several proposals, like release of detainees, strengthening of the cross LoC relations and find out ways and means of the return of the Kashmiri youth to their homes from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, which had figured in the agenda of all Kashmiri groups and leaders, especially APHC during their talks with the Central leadership.
But the Hurriyat Conference had poured cold water on hopes of the Government, as also the leaders of National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party that had urged the separatists to take part in the second Round Table Conference . The separatist conglomerate had stated that it cannot sit with a “ crowd of political hypocrites,” and had opted out of the RTC.
Now that comment has come to haunt them as the political leaders have started asking as to what was the wisdom in not sitting with them at the RTC in Srinagar and now sitting with Pakistanis in Pakistan . “ How can be one way of doing things can be good and bad in the same context,” asked Mian Altaf, a former minister and senior leader of National Conference .
“ It is good that they have seen merit in talking to all parties in Pakistan, but they should repeat the same here too,” he said “ If they can bring a solution, it would be welcome, but I have no hope of that.”
The political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir has come out questions that how is Hurriyat Conference so enamoured of the legislators of PoK, where elections were marred with charges of largescale rigging and distance from the elected leadership of Jammu and Kashmir, which has surfaced as a result of the internationally hailed free and fair Assembly elections in 2002.
Panun Kashmir Chairman Ajay Charngoo, Kashmiri Pandit representative in the working groups constituted by Prime Minister at the end of the second RTC said: “ Hurriyat is trying to bypass all democratic process and seeking to get legitimacy from Pakistan establishment, which at the moment is at odds with Islamic radicals in Pakistan itself.”
The recommendations of the five working groups on Kashmir, constituted after the second RTC, it is being pointed out has the backing of the political parties . “ But what will be the sanctity of the Hurriyat’s groups,” asked Ajay Charngoo
“ What has been proven by them that they have yet to come out of shadows of Pakistan,” Charngoo said.