Enigmatic Pakistan Yatra

As Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq lands in Pakistan for the much-vaunted talks, there is no clarity on what the conglomerate is going to discuss with the country’s leadership. Many political observers feel that Hurriyat (M) is being used as a ‘political bait’ by vested interests, Shah Abbas reports.

Photo: Bilal Bahadur
Photo: Bilal Bahadur

As the stage is being set for Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat to begin dialogue with the administration in Pakistan, this is for the third time that Hurriyat Conference (M) is visiting the country, ‘The Mohassin Country’, as every pro-freedom party and leader calls it. Contrary to the past, there are a number of curiosities surrounding the visit. One, Hurriyat (M) held consultations in a phased manner with members of civil society and traders in Kashmir valley to get their feedback. Second, the conglomerate has no apparent agenda on which to work or talk in Pakistan. And last, but not the least, Hurriyat (M) leaders were adamant on visiting Pakistan, even though a majority of the civil society members advised them not to go to Pakistan at a time when general elections in Pakistan are round the corner.

“Hurriyat (M) leaders never asked for any suggestions or feedback in the past when they visited Pakistan. Is there something special linked to their present Pakistan visit? I wonder! If it is so, Hurriyat (M) should have conveyed it to us,” said a businessman from Srinagar, who was invited to Hurriyat’s Rajbagh office for consultations along with other businessman but he did not turn up.

It is after a very long time that Hurriyat tried to take the civil society into confidence about any matter related to Kashmir but it forgot to evolve a consensus within the conglomerate; it didn’t even inform all its constituents about the Pakistan visit, nor had any formal meeting with all the constituents.

“Hurriyat tried to consult civil society which is an encouraging sign. But it failed to take its all the constituents into confidence. The general council was not even formally informed about it,” said Nayeem Ahmad Khan, a senior Hurriyat leader, adding that Pakistan visit was an affair of selected people from Hurriyat conference.

Amidst speculations and criticism, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, a top leader of Hurriyat (M) who favors a ‘palatable’ resolution to the Kashmir issue made tall claims about the visit. “We will be visiting Pakistan as owners and not slaves and will talk business there”, Bhat said a few days ago before leaving for Islamabad.

“We will not ride a blind horse and keep all our antennas on during talks,” Bhat reportedly told the audiences during a feedback session with civil society from north Kashmir.

Pakistan had extended an invitation to all the top brass pro-freedom leaders to visit the country very early in 2012. Since then, the chairman of Hurriyat (M), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has met Pakistan external affairs minister twice and once with the president. Political observers believe that presently there is nothing in Pakistan’s kitty for Hurriyat leaders and they are there only to keep the issue and themselves in news.

“If Pakistan had something special to talk about, it would have certainly conveyed that to Syed Ali Geelani, its most ‘trusted’ figure in Kashmir. Not only Hurriyat (M) but every front line pro-freedom leader would have gone there,” said a political science scholar in Kashmir University on the condition of anonymity adding, “What has Zardari to say other than to leave the issue for future generations?” he asked.

However, a businessman of Lal Chowk is of the opinion that there is no harm in discussing the matters related to the issue and have joint consultations. When Mirwiaz led Hurriyat Conference decided to visit Pakistan, I posed a question on social website, asking whether anyone was aware of the agenda of Hurriyat (M).

I got an interesting answer from a Kashmir University professor. But he opted to e-mail, instead of saying it on my page to avoid any unnecessary controversy. “Hurriyat(M) leaders went to Pakistan in 2005 through LoC crossing only to legitimize a joint confidence building measure (CBM) of New Delhi and Islamabad. They again visited Islamabad in 2007 only to support the four point formula of Musharraf and to impress upon him to implement the formula,” read the answer from the professor. —

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