The much touted visit of a delegation of the Hurriyat conference to Pakistan has turned out to be quite a damp squib. Even before the visit commenced there were many voices against the same. The list of contrarians was led by the octogenarian hard line leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been disenchanted ever since he was marginalised from the Pakistani scheme of things some years back. He now toes a parrot like line to say that Pakistan has failed to meet the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, “The present policy of Pakistan government vis-a-vis Kashmir is not matching the sacrifices and aspirations of the people of Kashmir,” he told Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir in New Delhi a few days back. The inside story is that Pakistan really does not wish to meet Geelani anymore and the invitation extended to him was lukewarm enough to put him off. He therefore tried his best to derail the visit.
Even before leaving India the delegation leader was forces to admit to the divide in the conglomerate of political parties. In response to a media query about those not in favour of the visit, Mirwaiz Umar farooq was constrained to comment that hard line separatist groups should change their outlook and desist from following politics of status quo. “Well, I think they (hard line separatists) need to change their outlook” the Mirwaiz has been quoted to have said. The important point is that there were simmers of discontent with regard t the visit within the separatist camp itself which led to a feeling that not much would come out of it any way.
Be that as it may, the whole process needs to be to be analysed for whatever it was worth simply for the sake of establishing the abject futility of the same. The visiting delegation comprising of the Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and six other members, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, Moulana Abbas Ansari, Aga Syed, Bilal Gani Lone, Mussadiq Aadil and Mukhtar Ahmad Waza landed in Pakistan full of hope and enthusiasm. The host Nation had laid out a well packed itinerary for them which included meetings with the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, leader of the opposition and some other political personages. They were also slated to meet the puppet President and Prime Minister of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
The meetings went as per schedule but what has come out in the media as press statements indicates that the Pakistan leadership had some good words to say but remained and totally non committal on enhancing its support to the separatist cause. The Pakistan Prime Minister reiterated his country’s political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiri’s in their so called aspiration to achieve self- determination in accordance with the United Nation resolutions on the subject. This statement means nothing; in fact it takes the clock back in the dialogue process which has moved on to the extent of opening lines of communication, establishment of cross border trade, liberal visa regime etc; it is very evident that the premier was fobbing off the delegation with talk without substance. The Pakistan President had a huge congregation in place during his meeting in order to give the look of something very important happening. After all the pomp and show he expressed a firm belief that meaningful, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India which would help in creating a conducive environment towards a permanent solution of the Kashmir dispute. He did not speak a word on the Hurriyat demand of giving a trilateral shape to the dialogue process; once again, all talk no substance. The prominent opposition leader Nawaz Sharif called upon the delegation to visit once again after March, 2013, in a clear implication that he would be at the helm of affairs after the forthcoming general elections in the country; he thus use the visit as a platform for his election campaign. The leadership of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, in any case, has nothing much to say in the scheme of things and would have probably looked upon the Hurriyat leadership as gods for the political freedom that they enjoy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Before embarking on the visit the Mirwaiz had described the purpose as an initiative to stress on Islamabad to bring Kashmir and back on its agenda and the Hurriyat to the forefront of its political engagement with India. “The basic purpose of the visit is to ensure participation of Kashmiri’s in the ongoing comprehensive dialogue between the two countries,” the Hurriyat spokesman said on behalf of the collective leadership. By the look of things Pakistan gave no commitment in this regards or in any other matter whatsoever.
One cannot, of course, comment on the success or otherwise of hidden agendas like firming up sources of covert funding, secret meetings with the Army and
Inter Services Intelligence etc which normally happens during such paid sojourns.
Quite embarrassed by the way things have unfolded in Pakistan the Hurriyat is now, much to the dismay of Geelani, preparing grounds to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Subtle hints are being thrown in the media that the visit had the approval of the government of India and that a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister is in the offing in mid-January, 2013. This seems to be yet another attempt to resurrect its image and relevance. In case the meeting does not come though the Hurriyat camp will get egg on its face for the second time within a period of one month.
One important lesson that has emerged from this exercise in futility is that the Hurriyat holds no importance in the Pakistani scheme of thing and unless it finds some other mentor or some other means to stay afloat it will soon enough become insignificant. The organisation needs to realise its own shortcomings and either shut down shop or go for a new political philosophy with which it can maintain its significance.