Amongst infightings, mudslinging, accusations and, the moderate separatist camp in Kashmir tries hard to identify with the new regime of Pakistan. Shah Abbas reports the change.
With the change of guard in Pakistan, the separatist camp in Kashmir is readying to identify itself with the new regime at Islamabad as has been a tradition from the last two decades.
When former Pakistani military general Parvez Musharraf occupied the throne after a bloodless coup, all the separatist parties except Syed Ali Geelani exalted him as a ‘visionary savior’ of Kashmiris.
Especially after he came out with his ‘out of box’ solution based on his four point formula, Musharraf became a ‘champion of Kashmir cause’ for Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Hurriyat (M) in exchange was recognized by the military establishment of Pakistan as ‘the sole representative forum’ of Kashmiri people. Musharraf regime ‘rejected’ Geelani faction and baring a few, even the smallest separatist groups opted to join Hurriyat (M). Shabir Shah, Nayeem Khan, late Sheikh Abdul Aziz, Azam Inquillabi and Agha Hassan were the frontline leaders who preferred to be the part of Hurriyat (M).
“It did not happen in Srinagar, but was decided somewhere else, almost all the separatist parties and groups were conveyed by the Musharraf regime through Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to do the same,” a Srinagar based business man, very close to separatists disclosed to Kashmir Life.
During Musharraf’s rule state controlled Pakistani media seldom carried any news regarding Geelani and started using terms like “aged pro-freedom leader” to describe him. Geelani immediately smelled the change in Pakistan’s attitude towards him. But he remained calm and waited for the right time to react.
Finally when Musharraf was replaced as president of Pakistan in 2008 general elections, Geelani almost ‘celebrated’ his ouster. He broke the news as if Musharraf’s ouster was ‘half freedom’ for Kashmiris.
“I want to share good news of Musharraf’s ouster with my nation,” Geelani had said to a huge gathering in Srinagar during 2008 Amarnath land row agitation. Geelani even ‘congratulated’ the people of Pakistan.
But now with Mian Nawaz Sharief, whom Musharraf had toppled in a bloodless coup, occupying Prime Minister’s seat, ‘Musharraf formula’ got confined to history books.
“I will start my relations with India where I had left these in 1999,”Nawaz said two days after his party was voted to power and he became prime minister for the third time.
Musharraf regime witnessed the division of the ‘separatist fort’ Hurriyat Conference.
Yasin Malik joined hands with Shabir Shah, Sheikh Aziz, Mian Qayoom and Jamaat-e-Islami under the banner of ‘Ittehadi Forum’(Forum for unity), hoping to reunite the two factions of Hurriyat. But when they failed Malik opted to function independently.
And presently, when Pakistan is witnessing a change of guard once again, separatist camp is engaged in a civil war within.
Many analysts believe that the moderate separatists are trying to identify themselves with the new political situation of Pakistan. “To me the four point formula was not any policy but a posturing only. But some people in Kashmir tried to hold it as a policy. Now when the man is in jail, with his all points, his onetime holders in Kashmir have started to rearrange their line and length with the new dispensation of Islamabad,” Dr Sheikh Showkat, a political analyst and commentator told Kashmir Life.
The history is repeating itself at a time when Nawaz has taken over in Pakistan. This time Hurriyat conference led by Mirwaiz is facing a severe infighting and even its executive leaders are openly talking against each other.
“This infighting is slowly and steadily paving the way for a third front in separatist camp,” a senior Journalist said adding, “Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan are riding a same horse, Yasin Malik is not comfortable with anybody, Mirawiz group is splitting, there are little groups like JKLF (H), JKLF (Rajbagh), People’s League (Darzi), Mahaz-e-Azadi, Peoples League (Tota), Muslim Conference (Dar) and others who want to be noticed so there is every possibility of a new group.”
Analysts believe some separatists are trying to regroup themselves outside the two factions of Hurriyat conference so that they get noticed by the new Pakistan regime. The interesting aspect is that not a single separatist leader is ready to talk about the present state of their camps.
When People of Pakistan chose Nawaz as their next ruler, Shabir Shah came out with a statement saying, “I am disappointed with the work of Hurriyat Conference”. He even directed his party leader in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) to resign from his post in Hurriyat (M). Mahmood Ahmad Sagar, was heading the PaK chapter of Hurriyat (M).
Shabir Shah is almost ‘out’ of Hurriyat (M) and so is Nayeem Ahmad Khan. Both old separatist faces seldom participate in the meetings of the amalgam. Even the Chairman, Mirwaiz has openly said, “If Shah does not want to remain in Hurriyat, he can leave.”
In a recent executive meeting of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz, sources said that all the members unanimously agreed to show Shah, exit door.
They added that during the meeting it was decided to treat ‘rebels’ who are close to Shah, likewise.
Hurriyat (M) and JKLF have also locked horns with each other. The differences within the separatist camp have resulted in mud-slinging between the frontline leaders and parties. But Geelani is still an exception.
The civil war within Hurriyat (M) and between JKLF and Mirwaiz led faction of Hurriyat conference is going on. The mudslinging between separatists started when JKLF chairman was denied a chance to speak at a function at Kashmir University organized by Anjuma-e-Share Shyan (ASS), an executive constituent of Hurriyat (M), on June 3.
Yasin Malik is of the opinion that “whenever and wherever I get a chance to speak, I speak about the freedom struggle, and in the Kashmir University, I was to do the same, that is why I was denied the time to speak though my name was in the list of speakers.”
The University seminar incident was followed by very serious accusations and counter-accusations between the frontline separatist leaders and parties. JKLF chairman, Yasin Malik, while strongly reacting to the denial of time by the organizers of the seminar dropped the bomb shell, “Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, is using the resistance movement for personal gains.” He added, “Hurriyat Conference (M) is siding with the tyrants.” Malik concluded by revealing, “Hurriyat (M) claims to represent the resistance but in reality these people have achieved big houses, expensive vehicles and other benefits in the name of the freedom movement.”
ASS led by Agha Syed Hassan Budgami reacted harshly against Malik’s allegations. It issued a statement saying, “Portraying himself as the torchbearer of resistance and calling others as traitors, shows Malik’s autocratic political behavior.”
But JKLF did not succumb. It came out with a counter statement directly targeting ASS chief. “Agha Hassan is responsible for Hurriyat split” adding, “We don’t change ideologies for lust of power and money like Agha Hassan.”
Now it was the turn of ASS to react and they did it crudely. A statement issued by ASS said, “Yasin Malik handed over arms to Indian forces under a secret pact.” The accusation was a clear indication about the ‘ceasefire’ announced by Malik in 1994. Malik is of the opinion that he took the decision only after the Indian civil society promised him of open support. Malik calls his decision of ‘ceasefire’, a transition from gun towards non-violent movement.
“Malik left Jihad and adopted Gandhain philosophy only to save his life,” ASS accused him adding, “Malik is masking as a Gandhi.”
But to Dr Sheikh Showkat, the present infighting between all separatists, excluding Geelani camp, is not a serious thing nor is it something new. “To me it is not a serious issue. Such things pertain from the inception of Hurriyat Conference. The latest incident does not seem to be something new, nor does it pertain to any ideological differences. It is a minor incident among moderates pertaining to a program at Kashmir University,” Dr Sheikh Showkat told Kashmir Life.