We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown — TS Eliot
On returning from Pakistan, the Hurriyat (M) Chairman Umar Farook lost no time in declaring that the visit was a successful one, stating that biggest achievement of the amalgams Islamabad trip was that Pakistan has agreed that there will be no bilateral agreement on Kashmir with India. And if this is true, then the Mirwaiz has certainly proved his detractors wrong as he has been able to achieve something which the others couldnt. However, in his exuberance, the Mirwaiz, who has a penchant for pulling out leafs from history, has unfortunately shown signs of selective amnesia
The issue of including the Hurriyat in Indo- Pak talks on Kashmir is certainly not a new development. Probably, the Mirwaiz has forgotten that in November 2004, President Musharraf had told a group of Indian journalists that We want inclusion of Hurriyat Conference in the talks as they are the true representatives of the people of Kashmir and have been leading the struggle for their right of self-determination. And he was not alone as his views were also echoed in Pakistans opposition parties call for the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions, asking Islamabad and New Delhi to ensure the participation of Kashmiris in the dialogue process. But history bears testimony to the fact that even though all political parties were united on this aspect, successive Pakistani governments made no efforts on this account!
The Mirwaiz has said that Bilateral talks have always proved a meaningless exercise, adding that Shimla, Tashkent and Agra Agreements have failed in relation to resolving the Kashmir issue and he is right. But doesnt he know that it despite serious differences between India and Pakistan, both countries have faithfully adhered to the provisions of the Shimla Agreement? And herein lies the catch- as per this agreement, India and Pakistan agreed That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them. Thus, while Pakistan may feel otherwise, it has no locus standi to compel India to include the Hurriyat in negotiations as it would violate the bilateral clause. And so when the Mirwaiz says that Once Pakistan will refuse bilateral solution on Kashmir, the step will naturally pave way for a trilateral dialogue that would ultimately end up in settlement of the issue, isnt he being over optimistic?
The Mirwaiz has also stated that The trip needs to be viewed in a realistic perspective with regard to the Kashmir issue, adding that When we talk of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, we mean all areas of the state as it existed before 1947. Here again, he has made a cardinal mistake. Because, as per the Shimla Agreement, both countries have agreed that In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. So, as per the Shimla Agreement, though India and Pakistan may continue to hold their respective positions on J&K, both countries have mutually agreed to convert the UN cease fire line into the Line of Control (LoC) and therefore the pre 1947 boundaries have become practically irrelevant!
Lastly, the Mirwaiz made a big mistake by disregarding the advice from various quarters not to visit Pakistan alone. Nor did he pay heed to President Musharrafs advice given way back in 2004 that the Hurriyat should first resolve its internal differences and Even if the differences are not resolved, they should at least come on a common platform and represent the wishes of the people. So, though the Mirwaiz stoutly defended his decision of going alone to Pakistan by saying that We cant make the struggle and resolution process hostage to unity, the Pakistan Foreign Ministers post visit remark that We would like to see the separatist leadership getting united and that Geelani is a very honorable leader and represents a large chunk of population and sentiment we are inviting him again and we would love to have consultations with him, is a clear signal that Pakistan is yet to take its final call on Kashmir!
Tailpiece: While Pakistan has yet to issue an official statement regarding its decision not to discuss Kashmir sans the Hurriyat, it has issued a statement that “The government of Pakistan decided to grant MFN status to India. This is a process we have initiated. We are still going through internal processes with regard to this and hope to get this through as soon as possible.”
Even before it took place, the visit was dubbed as a mere photo session and uncharitable as it may have sounded then; those who made this remark are probably having the last laugh!
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