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Pak push for united Hurriyat

india Updated: Nov 11, 2013 19:39 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

Pakistan seems to be busy again in infusing fresh impetus into Kashmir's separatist movement. It has forced the fractured Hurriyat - divided into moderates and hardliners - to reunite in Islamabad and drum up for the Kashmir problem jointly.

Pakistan, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the helm of affairs, also seems to have decided to go back to early 1990s position on the Hurriyat leadership.

The new democratically-elected government has sidelined former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf's post-2002 move to project only moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as the face of Kashmir separatism. Musharraf's move had come in the backdrop of hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani opposing his four-point formula publicly.

Sources said the offices of hardline Hurriyat, which faced scaling down of diplomatic and monetary support during the Musharraf's regime, are back in action.

Before the crucial 2014 elections in Kashmir, the Pakistan government seems to be pushing for a united Hurriyat. On November 6, both the factions of the Hurriyat put up a joint face, first time since the Hurriyat was divided in 2002, and organised a seminar on the anniversary of the killing of Muslims in Jammu riots in 1947.

"We welcome the reunification in Pakistan (where both factions organised a joint function). It is a good omen. We are hopeful to see such process starting this side also. I have been for unification of the Hurriyat from day one," said moderate Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmad Shah.

Shah said, "It was not possible for each and everyone to be the tallest leader. We can sit next to each other and push for a final solution of the Kashmir issue."

A close aide of the Mirwaiz, on the condition of anonymity, said, "Pakistan as a system wants a united Hurriyat. It has pushed for a joint show recently."

The reunification process started in 2008, despite committees formulated by the separatists, failed to take off. Geelani has made it clear that unification "only on issues of mutual interest is possible" but his Hurriyat will function separately. Sources said Geelani is a catch-phrase again in Pakistan establishment circles and might again emerge as a force parallel to the Mirwaiz.

Pakistan's much-publicised meeting of Hurriyat leaders, around a dozen, including most hardliners, on Sunday evening in New Delhi with visiting Sharif adviser Sartaz Aziz was also a move to embolden separatists, which face an existential challenge from active mainstream political parties these days.

Sources said the Mirwaiz, while welcoming Pakistan's diplomatic support, asked it to make "Kashmir centre of Indo-Pak dialogue and separatist leadership as main stake holders".

"People of Kashmir continue to bear the brunt of the animosity between the two countries. The border clashes too impacted people of Kashmir on both sides… will only support result-oriented dialogue," the Mirwaiz reportedly told Aziz.