Kashmiri separatists urge Delhi to take an initiative

Updated on May 22, 2007 07:34 PM IST
Chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurrityat Conference appeals to prime minister to evolve a national consensus in resolving the Kashmir issue, reports Arun Joshi.
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Hindustan Times | ByArun Joshi, Jammu

Kashmiri separatist politics has decisively shifted gears and its leadership have pinned as much hope on Islamabad as on Delhi.

Their dependence on good offices and appeal of the western powers - United States of America , European Union, and rest of the international community, including Organisation of Islamic Conference and global human rights groups , they have realized , would yield nothing unless Delhi take the matter forward.

On Monday, Chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurrityat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq while speaking at the 17th death anniversary of his father Moulvi Mohammaf Farooq in Idgah, Srinagar, made a passionate appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he should evolve a national consensus in resolving the Kashmir issue.

"It is Delhi that should now take initiative, without that the resolution is not possible," he said. "We have always acknowledged that Delhi has its own role to play," the Mirwaiz told Hindustan Times.

Two things are troubling Kashmiri separatist leadership. First, the dialogue process is moving at a sluggish pace. " There was a gap of 18 months between our second round of talks in March 2004 and the third round in September 2005," the Mirwaiz observed Again, there is a gap of more than one year, when they last met prime minister on May 3, 2006.

"How can Delhi expect us to do everything when it is not willing to march with times? Delhi has to move, and move fast," he said.

Secondly, Delhi is not spelling out its roadmap. The separatist leadership is unable to understand what's going on Indian government's mind.

Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah, who earned sobriquet of " Nelson Mandela of Kashmir" for he has spent more than 20 years of his life in prison, concedes that Delhi cannot shy away from its role. "Either it should respond to President Musharraf's proposal or it should come out without its own initiative. It must say something," commented Shabir Shah.

In the same spirit, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik - currently leading his group's " Safar-e-Azadi" ( a march to freedom), had written a letter to senior BJP leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on May 9, urging him to support the type of visionary and bold move that is needed today from the present government in Delhi to ensure that the ongoing peace process moves forward, becomes institutionalized and inclusive and gains in seriousness."

The appeal of the prominent faces of Kashmiri separatist politics- Yasin Malik , the first militant to introduce gun culture in Kashmir in 1988, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who in 1990, at the age of 17, was dragged into political arena following assassination of his father- to the Indian leadership is indicative of the changed times in Kashmir. His speeches of 1990 were focused on the theme that nothing short of "self determination would wok for the people of Kashmir". Today, he is asking for Indian national consensus to resolve the issue.

The hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani believes that the current peace process and internal dialogue are a "meaningless exercise". Yet he wants India to shun its adamancy and concede the right of self-determination" to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. "

But others in the separatist spectrum of politics have taken a cue from Pakistan President Musharraf who has ruled out self-determination in favour of his four-point Kashmir resolution formula- self-governance, demilitarization, joint control and defining of Jammu and Kashmir as geographical and political entity- and want Delhi to make a next move .

As Mirwaiz spelt it out, "bullets and bombs is not the answer- dialogue is, and Delhi has to move now."

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