Jobs @ MG
Ali Shah Geelani
‘Islam is our source of inspiration and sacrifices’
may like him or hate him but you cannot wish him away or doubt his
sincerity. Syed Ali Shah Geelani whose name on the All Party Hurriyet
Conference's list for the forums’s proposed Pakistan visit has been a
bone of contention, has become indispensable in Kashmir's polity that he
cannot simply be ignored by the government or the militant outfits.
The former ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir and ex-chairman of the APHC
wields great respect among political leaders of the state as well as among
separatist outfits functioning from inside the Kashmir and Pakistan.
Geelani recently received a fillip from an unexpected quarter: he has been
appointed a member of a leading Muslim world forum, Makkah-based Rabita
al-Aalam al-Islami (Muslim World League). He is the first Kashmiri to
receive this honour. Distinguished Muslims personalities like Maulana Abul
Ala Maududi and Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi from the Sub-continent have been
members of this world forum. S Ubaidur Rahman and Zafarul-Islam Khan of
the MG talked to him on a number of issues. Excerpts:
|How do you see the Indian
government's latest initiative to hold talks with political groups
in J&K for which KC Pant has been appointed as negotiator?
As far as the government's announcement is concerned, there have
been several such announcements in the past. Last year too the
government had announced to hold talks with the people and the
Hurriyet Conference. The announcement was made exactly a year ago,
on 4 April. This time too the government repeated its announcement
on the same date. We did not receive any written or formal proposal
to hold talks during the whole year.
What makes government's intention suspicious is its announcement to
hold talks with all people in J&K. This announcement in itself
is confusing. There is need to talk to only those people who are
struggling for a just resolution of the J&K issue and not to
those groups who already favor India's stand on Kashmir. This does
not give right signals to those who are involved in the struggle.
The government has not said that it intends to resolve. Rather, this
move shows that it only wants the continuance of ‘peace.’ There
is no concrete step that shows that the government wants to resolve
the contentious issue.
The Government has not accepted Kashmir as a dispute. Until there is
a step to resolve the dispute itself no peace is possible in
Kashmir. We want peace more than anyone. It is we who are
sacrificing our lives. Thousands have been martyred, a large number
of youths tortured, a number of our sisters and daughters have been
outraged. So who will desire peace here more than us. We want peace
in the J&K but it's not possible till the purpose for which they
sacrificed is achieved.
The Hurriyet Conference has made it clear that the issue cannot be
resolved till the talks are held between the three parties involved
in the dispute, viz. India, Pakistan and the people of the erstwhile
state of Jammu & Kashmir and the issue is resolved as per the UN
resolutions and charter.
But the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says that the issue
cannot be solved on the basis of the UN charter but as per Shimla
agreement and Lahore Declaration between the two countries?
The fact does not change on account of what someone says, be it
the UN secretary general or someone else. The UN has to see which
country is making impediments in the way of the resolution of the
issue. It was UN's responsibility to see if India was not conforming
to its directives, and if this was the case it should tell the
country to abide by them and if Pakistan is taking steps opposed to
its charter then Pakistan should be told to follow its directives.
But everything has become highly politicized these days.
Why you have reservations on the inclusion of other groups in the
Why should those people be involved in talks who have nothing to
do with the Kashmir issue. The Congress and other political parties
did not play any role in this struggle. People who have sacrificed
their lives and everything should be contacted and dialogues should
be held with them only.
Why you are insisting to include Pakistan in the dialogue?
India occupies two thirds of Kashmir territory and Pakistan one
third. So the issue cannot be resolved without the inclusion of
Pakistan in the dialogue. For this purpose we asked the government
of India to allow us to go to Pakistan. We had even decided to go
there last December but we were not issued passports.
But both the countries don't recognize the Kashmiri people as a
party to the dispute?
It has been accepted by the whole world. Kashmir people have
been accepted by the whole world as a party to the dispute. They
have been suffering most in this dispute.
There are people who don't want to go with Pakistan?
It is the people of the Kashmir who have to decide. It has to be
decided by the majority of the people. If the majority wants to stay
with India none should oppose their right to stay with India. But
this has to be decided by the majority. Even if Muslims of the state
decide to stay with India we will abide by their wish. In any case
around 200 million Muslims are staying in the country.
But Jammu and Laddakh people don't want to go to Pakistan?
It will affect the unity of Kashmir. They will be allowed to
vote for staying in India and there will be no pressure on them from
Will there not be bloodshed in such a condition?
We don't want bloodshed. We want to live with our Hindu and
Buddhist brothers. We have never pressurized anyone. Hindu brothers
who left Kashmir were never told by us to leave the state. It was
the Indian government that asked them to leave Kashmir.
Have you made any concrete efforts to bring those people back?
We have asked our Hindu brothers to come back and settle there
again. We had never told them to leave the state. The Indian
government has to bring those people back to the state.
How are we supposed to make concrete efforts to bring back our Hindu
brothers back here when we ourselves are not safe. When a person
leaves the house in the morning we are not sure if he will be back
alive in the evening. When a person is taken to a police station we
have no idea that he will be back alive or if his body will be
thrown somewhere. Our women are not safe. How are we supposed in
this atmosphere to make efforts to bring back our Hindu brothers? We
are struggling for our own survival.
There were news of internal differences in the APHC..
Differences are natural. Hurriyet is not an organization. It is
a forum and the organizations which have joined the forum have not
given up their separate ideologies. Freedom of Kashmir has brought
There are differences over projecting Kashmir as a religious or
political issue in the APHC and Jamaat itself. What do you say?
Be the issue religious or political, the people sacrificing for the
cause are all Muslims. You will have to see what is the source of
inspiration behind their cause and their sacrifices. And the source
of inspiration behind all their sacrifices is Islam alone. q