Whose Kashmir is it Anyway?

By announcing a boycott of the proposed conference on Kashmir called by the President of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK), the Hurriyat (G) has raised concerns regarding its seriousness about resolving the Kashmir imbroglio. Why I say this is not because the Hurriyat (G) has decide to abstain from this path breaking conference but since this momentous decision has been taken only because some “pro-Indian politicians” have also been invited for the conference. And this strange reason for boycotting the conference raises the question- whose Kashmir is it anyway?

The rationale given by Hurriyat (G) to boycott this conference is not at all convincing. Firstly, the Hurriyat (G) needs to remember that the Kashmir issue is all about its people exercising their ‘right to self determination’ and this right is not restricted to merger with Pakistan alone. Thus, while “pro-Indian politicians” may not subscribe to the Hurriyat’s views on the future of Kashmir, by virtue of being Kashmiris, they cannot be technically or morally excluded from any confab on Kashmir. On the contrary, their attendance would provide yet another perspective to the Kashmir issue for discussion and debate that could well provide valuable inputs for resolving the ‘K’ issue.

A novice could have demanded their exclusion simply because “the pro-Indian political parties or the politicians are equally responsible for the crimes, atrocities and the oppression committed by the Indian occupational forces upon the unarmed and innocent people of occupied Kashmir.” However, coming from a veteran like Geelani sahib, this point of view is unfortunate as it is a well established fact that to make any conflict resolution meaningful it is imperative that all the involved parties should sit down together and debate. In any case, if the Hurriyat (G) chairman finds the attendance of “pro-Indian politicians” so abhorrent, then why is it demanding that the Hurriyat be included in Indo-Pak talks on Kashmir? 

While defending his boycott decision, Geelani sahib has drawn a parallel with Islamabad’s recent decision of not inviting the Assembly Speaker of Indian administered Kashmir (IaK) to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC). With due respect to the venerable patriarch, I wish to politely remind Geelani sahib that this was an ill-considered decision that led to the international community coming together and demanding that the IaK Assembly Speaker be invited. It was the universal endorsement of IaK as a legitimate entity by the international community that forced a diplomatically embarrassed Pakistan to cancel the CPC. Therefore, it would be better to forget this episode as a bad dream rather than repeat the same mistake.

The Hurriyat (G) has a serious problem of sticking to its own antiquated views and disregarding the importance of well meaning suggestions or international perception. The Hurriyat claims to be the ‘true representatives’ of the Kashmiris, but is shy to prove its popularity through the ballot. It complains that Kashmiris are being denied freedom of expression and the ‘right to self determination’ but outrightly disapproves of any views that are at a variance to its own. It talks about its indispensability in any talks regarding Kashmir, yet chooses to boycott the same when the attendees include some whom it does not see eye to eye with. It blames New Delhi for adopting an obdurate posture regarding Kashmir but is not willing to give any manouvering space for facilitating negotiations.  

To make matters worse, rather than concentrate on forging unity within the separatist amalgam and encouraging free exchange of ideas, the Hurriyat (G) insists on playing the role of ‘big brother’. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that its statement on the Kashmir conference says that “Geelani sahib also ordered to issue Show Cause Notice against those constituents of the amalgam about whom the reports are coming that they have cooperated in holding of such a conference without informing the Hurriyat Conference.” Attributed to Hurriyat (G) chairman, this statement not only reveals the complete lack of internal democracy within the Hurriyat but also reflects the existence of a highly inflexible mindset and again raises the same old question- whose Kashmir is it anyway?

The harsh reality is that despite the entire clamour it makes, Pakistan has clearly demonstrated that it is in no great hurry as far as resolving the ‘K’ issue is concerned. It is also a fact that an unresolved Kashmir is hurting its people the most and so it becomes incumbent on our leaders to take control of the situation and explore all avenues for settling this long festering problem. The Hurriyat should also remember that when it comes to the wellbeing of the public, egos and personal prejudices need to be cast aside. It does not require rocket science to conclude that talks are the only option but unfortunately the Hurriyat (G) doesn’t appear too enthusiastic about grasping every such opportunity!

The paradox is that while the Hurriyat (G) has not been able to script anything that could pave the way for resolving the Kashmir crisis on its own, it feels extremely offended when some other constituent of the Hurriyat amalgam takes this initiative. This is certainly not the way ahead and so if the people feel that the Hurriyat (G) is being high headed and indifferent to the pain of the Kashmiris, then they cannot be faulted! 

Tailpiece: US President JF Kennedy had said that “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate” and the import of this illuminating statement needs no further elaboration. Now, with this quote in mind, it is for the Hurriyat (G) to tell us why it is abstaining from the proposed conference on Kashmir. Is it because they apprehend that the presence of “pro-Indian politicians” would create an atmosphere that would force the Hurriyat (G) to “negotiate out of fear”? Or is it that they simply “fear to negotiate”?

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