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Shabbir Shah: ‘Let New-Delhi show sincerity’

Continuing with his anti- Hurriyat (conference) stance, the senior separatist leader and chief of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) Shabbir Ahmad Shah has alleged that the leaders of All parties Hurriyat conference (APHC) were a hitch in the creation of an effective voice on behalf of the people of Kashmir. Shah is the only senior separatist leader who has taken an open front against the Hurriyat conference saying that Hurriyat leaders were not ready to subordinate their personal interests to general interests. Since his expulsion from the Hurriyat, where he was enjoying status of a central executive member, Shabbir Shah has been demanding that all constituent parties in the Hurriyat wind up their individual character to give an effective shape to the separatist political platform. However most of the constituent parties do not favor such a move and want their individual identities to remain intact.

In an interview Mr. Shah also consented the claims that APHC was the only representative voice of people of Kashmir. "To make the Hurriyat conference more vibrant, effective and representative, the amalgam leaders have to give up their rigidity, ego and interests, for which none of them is ready", Shah said. Shabbir’s People's League was one of the main constituents of the APHC. However after his expulsion from the Hurriyat in 1998, Shabbir also left the League to form the DFP. The League continues to be one of the central executive constituents of the conference and is being represented by the jailed leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz.

Though the official circles give the impression that Shabbir Shah has a soft corner for participation in the elections, however the separatist leader, who was once declared as ‘prisoner of conscience’ by the Amnesty International, denied having any idea to share the poll process. "After all these elections are meant to form the government and not for deciding political future of Jammu and Kashmir, as such chances of our participation are nil" Shabbir told his interviewer. Replying to a question the DFP president said that the Kashmir struggle had entered a decisive phase saying that all freedom loving people should forge unity of thoughts and souls. "If we are for a common cause, then why separate voices and directions", he asked. Mr. Shah also expressed the view that due to presence of the Hurriyat conference in the field, the existence of other (separatist) individuals and groups cannot be ignored.

According to him there were more veteran leaders in the field advocating Kashmir’s freedom. "Their not being in the Hurriyat won’t lead to ignore them" Shah viewed. Shabbir in fact devoted maximum portion of his interview against the Hurriyat conference. 

Shah was expelled from the amalgam for having a meeting with one of the former Indian Prime Ministers V.P. Singh. However of late the Hurriyat leaders have started meeting, talking and discussing things with secretary and joint secretary level bureaucrats of government of India. The DFP chief also contested the claim of the Hurriyat that the amalgam had succeeded in highlighting the Kashmir issue at the international level. Shabbir gives this credit to militants saying "Mujahdeen have contributed their lives and blood to highlight Kashmir world over". He asked what contributions Hurriyat leaders have made vis-à-vis Kashmir? About present tense state of affairs between India and Pakistan, the separatist leader was of the opinion that only peaceful ways can resolve the Kashmir issue.

As long as Kashmir remains un-resolved, India and Pakistan can never be friends, he opines. Suggesting a comprehensive ceasefire between India, Pakistan and militants, Shabbir indicated that if India shows some signs of sincerity, ‘then we would request the militant leadership to announce a ceasefire’. Shabbir was optimistic that Mujahideen will honor such a call. He also said that for this purpose New Delhi has to give up its hard and egoistic approach.

¯ Javed Matjee, Srinagar

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