The Lost Legacy

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Jehangir Ali

Moderate Hurriyat leader, Molvi Abbas Ansari’s recent plea that he must be allowed to contest elections must be seen in the larger context of the waning influence of the politics of Hurriyat leaders led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on the people of Kashmir. Ansari’s ‘bravado’ stems from the proposed visit of Kashmir’s separatist leadership to Pakistan. Since 2011, Hurriyat leaders have been extended three invitations by former foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, current FM, Hina Rabbani Khar and Pakistan’s President, Asif Zardari.

On all the three occasions, instead of seeking answers from Pakistan on why it abandoned the cause of Kashmir by unilaterally engaging in trade with India, the doves indulged in political skulduggery and preferred to remain in their murky coops because they are aware that the stink within the coterie has travelled far and it is too strong to avoid detection. The fall of political careers begins with a gradual loss of political morality. The coterie of moderates thus adopted the banality of wait and watch approach. Syed Ali Geelani, who doesn’t mix words when it comes to the issue of Kashmir, was denied passport by Delhi and remains house-arrested.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s meeting with Asif Zardari on the sidelines of yearly UN General Assembly meeting this year offered a window of hope for the moderates to go ahead with their Pak visit. When Mirwaiz returned to Kashmir, his amalgam unofficially sent Abdul Gani Bhat to Pakistan to assess the mood. To his utter dismay, Bhat was shown a cold shoulder and denied audience, even by the foreign minister Khar, and Prime Minister and President of Pakistan. Mirwaiz’s executive council then went to Delhi and met Pakistan’s high commissioner, Salman Bashir, who reportedly advised the doves to first set their house in order and unite, an idea which the moderates must have obviously rejected. No prizes for guessing who will lead the conjoined amalgam!

The cracks in the moderates became visible when Shabir Shah, one of the executive members of Hurriyat, went public saying that he was not aware of his amalgam’s Delhi visit. Shah even told media that he was opposed to the Pak visit. Some questions then arise. If Pakistan doesn’t want to engage with the people who show no faith in each other, it would be wise to recall the failure in protecting one’s integrity and morality rather than issuing pleas which catalyse the ‘fall of empire’.

And, before the issue of participating in elections becomes a reality, which it might, sooner or later, and the future turncoats in moderate Hurriyat embrace what they have been fighting against over the last 23 years, and for which thousands of innocent men, women and children have spilled blood on the streets of Kashmir, we must ask them what this fight was all about then. If National Conference and PDP were not able to redress the economic grievances of Kashmir, with what supreme magic of Aladin’s lamp will Ansari and his coterie change the status quo.

Sometime back, when Delhi announced a hike in fuel prices, a petrol station owned by a moderate separatist in Srinagar was closed, not to protest the hike, but to make extra bucks on the unsold fuel next day. The leadership of moderate Hurriyat, once entrusted with the legacy of resistance movement, are now faced with an acute loss of character and integrity. They need more than an introspection to save their faces.

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