All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's call for farewell to arms is a loud manifestation of changing times in Jammu and Kashmir, especially when contrasted with the past performance of the separatist leadership in the state.
On July 24, 2000, when Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen Chief Commander Majeed Dar announced a unilateral ceasefire and declared that guns would not deliver any solution even if these are used for next 10 years. That time, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference had declared that it was a "step taken in haste" and he was dubbed as a "traitor" having no respect for the "martyrs".
There was a virtual condemnation of Majeed Dar and his group and its top leader Mohammad Yusuf Shah, who uses nom de guerre of Syed Salaha-ud-Din.
Mirwaiz, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Abdul Ghani Bhat and Abdul Ghani Lone were part of the then undivided Hurriyat Conference.
They were unable to unshackle themselves of the fear of Pakistan, which had not liked the idea of ceasefire that time and it is also an open secret that all the separatist leaders were patronising one or the other militant outfits.
Today, Mirwaiz, Bhat and Lone's eldest son Bilal Ghani Lone are in Pakistan, and they have voiced concern over "expanding grave yards" in Kashmir and referred to the cult of guns as a man eater in the valley. It was unthinkable for them to say so about two years ago.
They were among those hailing the terrorists for bringing the Kashmir issue out of the cold storage.
Beginning with Shabir Shah of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party , who was the first to say that Kashmiri leadership needs to take recourse to dialogue process, followed by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik's assertion that the time is ripe for political struggle. The vision document of Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Ghani Lone reflected their changed thinking that "peace path is more attractive and result oriented," according to Darkshna Andrabi of Socialist Democratic Party.
But the Mirwaiz statement was the boldest of all, says CPI-M Secretary MY Tarigami. "I would call a realisation of changing times and mood of the people.Tarigami however believes that there was a need to "expand the constituency of solution seekers through dialogue."
Another factor that makes it more relevant to the times is that the separatists are shedding their cloak of fear.
A grenade was fired at Mirwaiz's house on January 15. Two days later, Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen and hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani had sponsored a general strike.
Srinagar roads were littered with the burning tyres and menacingly moving supporters of solution through guns.
Mirwaiz acknowledged that these were attempts to "terrorise" him and "coerce the people. But I am not scared," he declared.
"We will pursue our path of seeking Kashmir solution through dialogue," he had said before leaving for Pakistan and on Friday he made a statement calling, end to armed struggle.
"He has read the writing on the wall, the yearning for peace by the silent majority of the people" Tarigami observed.
Geelani and the United Jehad Council have opposed Mirwaiz. The UJC has said that Mirwaiz was "sermonising cowardice."
Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had been asking the separatists to board the bus of dialogue with a clear denunciation of violence.
And his ally PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has often stated: "peace process is irreversible."
According to him, India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir have developed a high stake in dialogue process.
Mirwaiz has read it on January 19, 2007. But it is never too late.