J&K separatists divided on Indo-Pak talks

However, barring Geelani, all other groups like JKLF, Democratic Freedom Party and moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference support the dialogue process, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 15:26 IST
Arun Joshi

Kashmiri separatists presented themselves as a fragmented picture before the visiting Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan whom they met in New Delhi late on Tuesday evening as moderates pressed for the inclusion of Kashmiri leadership in the dialogue process and hardliners warned that Pakistan should revert to its original commitment of “right to self determination” for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani did not hesitate in telling Khan that dilution of the ideological commitment could reflect change in its geographical map, as it happened with the East Wing becoming Bangladesh in 1971.

Pakistan would stay on course; he advised if it remained consistent with its original stand of right of self-determination of the people of the state. “Everything else is a glib talk.”

Barring Geelani, all other groups like Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Democratic Freedom Party and moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference were supportive of the dialogue process.

They said that the process would gain meaning and achieve results if the separatist leadership of Kashmir is made a party to it.

Pakistan, though regarded as a friendly nation to the “cause” of Kashmiri separatists, could not hope to achieve anything substantial in its talks with India unless Kashmiri concerns were fully addressed, Kashmiri separatists leaders bluntly told Khan during their separate set of meetings with him.

The problem is in Kashmir and the leaders of the region will have to be involved in the dialogue process if the optimism of the talks is to radiate on the people of Kashmir,” Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik told Khan. “Right now, there is gloom in the Valley.”

It has been a consistent theme of the Kashmiri separatists that the “true representatives” of the people of Kashmir be involved in the talks.

Abdul Ghani Bhat of the moderate Hurriyat Conference also spoke on similar lines, and so did Shabir Shah of Democratic Freedom Party. Shabir wanted a working group to be formed to institutionalise the process, which he had first disclosed to Hindustan Times three days ago.

But Geelani told Khan, “Today you are using force against your own people in Baluchistan and Waziristan and that would weaken the ideological foundation on which Pakistan was founded. If Pakistan fails to protect the ideological foundation, that would be reflected on its geographical boundaries too.”

According to him, the “ideological compromises” would have serious geographical repercussions within Pakistan and also on Kashmir, where he claimed that the “freedom loving people are against any of the compromises by Pakistan on the issue.”

Geelani told Hindustan Times over phone after his meeting with Khan, that he made it clear to the Pakistan Foreign Secretary that, “since 2004, when the composite dialogue started between India and Pakistan, no progress has been made on Kashmir issue. Then what is the use of having the fruitless dialogue, he asked, if there is no progress.”?

Khan agreed that no progress has been made on Kashmir during this dialogue process in the past two years,” Geelani claimed Pak Foreign Secretary having told him.

Geelani and other separatist leaders met Khan in New Delhi on Tuesday late evening.

Geelani struck a different line and rejected the suggestions that there should be reunion of the separatist forces.

When there are divergent paths, how could there be unity of thought and action,” he told Riaz Khan.

Pakistan has been trying for the unity of thought and action among all separatist groups. This effort has been going on ever since Geelani spilt the Hurriyat Conference in September 2003.

First Published: Nov 15, 2006 15:26 IST