Hurriyat and Pakistan

In an interview to a national daily, Governor Satya Pal Malik said that the former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf had told Hurriyat leaders to negotiate concessions for Kashmir from New Delhi as Pakistan wouldn’t be able to forcibly wrest the state from the superpower India. The fresh alleged revelation comes in the wake of  several contentious statements made by the Governor about the politics of the state. Earlier he had asked the mainstream and separatist parties  to refrain from  pitching for talks with Pakistan on Kashmir. He has also accused the PDP for irregularities in the select list of J&K Bank. But by claiming to know that  Musharraf had advised Hurriyat to arrive at a settlement with New Delhi over some concessions  on Kashmir,  Governor has sought to  paint Azadi struggle as pointless.

As far as  the  truth of whether Hurriyat had got any such message, Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir  during Musharraf’s rule gives a reason to believe otherwise. The  peace process between Musharraf and the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and later taken forward by the  former Prime minister Manmohan Singh had nearly pulled off a Kashmir solution. Even though Hurriyat was taken on board, the peace process was largely bilateral in nature. At no point was Hurriyat talking to centre for a Kashmir solution exclusive of Pakistan. On the contrary, they were part and parcel of the Indo-Pak dialogue – holding talks simultaneously but separately with New Delhi and Islamabad. True, Musharraf did influence a powerful group of separatist leaders. He persuaded them to be realistic in their expectations of  a Kashmir settlement and brought them around to his four point proposals which envisaged a solution without disturbing the existing boundaries. And yes, he turned his back on the Hurriyat G chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani when he opposed the four point formula. But just when the protracted negotiations seemed ready to bear fruit, Musharraf lost power. Even though successor governments in India and Pakistan have failed to revive the process, Musharraf’s approach to Kashmir resolution and the positive response to it from  Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh remains the most pragmatic way out of the decades old logjam on the state. The answer to the reigning conflict is not a process of dialogue that excludes Pakistan but one which involves it. It has to be  an integrated process inclusive of all actors. Otherwise, all efforts to find peace in Kashmir are bound to end in failure. And the past seventy years stand a testimony to this fact. As things stand, use of force has become the  only option for New Delhi to maintain an uneasy calm in Kashmir. And there is little hope that things will change unless centre adopts a political and humane approach towards the state, geared to address the festering issue in its political and historical context.

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