Pakistan foreign secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan has failed to forge unity among the separatist leadership of Kashmir. The issue of unity had come up during Khan’s meeting with the secessionist leaders on Tuesday in New Delhi. The Pak foreign secretary, who is currently in New Delhi for talks with his Indian counter-part to push forward the Indo-Pak peace process, had invited leaders of both factions of Hurriyat Conference, Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Ahmad Shah and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik for meeting.
Khan had separate meetings with all these leaders, and sought them to join together.
“The issue of unity did surface, and Pak foreign secretary wished that the pro-freedom leadership of Kashmir be united, with one voice and at one platform”, said a senior leader, who met with the Khan. Sources said that Syed Ali Geelani outright rejected any alliance with Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference saying, “they have deviated from the basic principle of right of self-determination and were talking of options, which in no way were acceptable”. “There is no justification in joining with them, who have deviated from the basic stand. I can have no truck with them”, Geelani is reported to have told Pakistani official.
Geelani is reported to have criticized Pakistan’s “changing” policy on Kashmir and told the Khan that while his country has taken a U-turn on Kashmir, government of India was as “intransigent as ever”.
Sources said that Shabir Ahmad Shah however supported Khan’s contentions on unity among “pro-freedom” leadership, and told the Pak official that he was even ready to dissolve his party for the sake of unity. “But this (Shah’s move for unity) should be reciprocated by others as well”, Shah told Pak foreign secretary.
The leaders of Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference professor Abdul Gani Bhat, Molvi Abbas Ansari and Bilal gani Lone and JKLF chief Mohammad Yaseen Malik too are reported to have made no firm commitment with Riaz Khan on unity.
The 23-party separatist alliance fragmented in 2003 after Syed Ali Geelani accused one of the Hurriyat constituent Peoples Conference of violating the Hurriyat constitution and participating in 2002-assembly elections. Geelani, who was then a hot favorite with Pakistan, walked out of the Hurriyat to float what he called “real” Hurriyat Conference along with 13 other constituents. However Pakistani establishment later distanced with Geelani and owned Mirwaiz, Ummer Farooq, who was heading the rival faction of the amalgam.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik however did not join either of the factions. Shabir Ahmad Shah, who was already out of the Hurriyat fold, also chose to remain neutral.