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Letter relieves Hurriyet
By Javed Matjee, Srinagar
Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s letter has relieved the All- Parties Hurriyat
Conference leadership of the tension which had gripped it in the wake of the
recent developments. The amalgam’s highest decision-making body, the central
executive, met here on 5 July to discuss the letter. Gen. Pervez Musharraf
in his letter, dated 3 July, has expressed his keenness to meet the Hurriyat
leaders during his forthcoming visit to India. Addressed to the Hurriyat
chairman Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat, the letter was faxed to him on 4 July.
New Delhi, on the other hand, is cool to the idea put forth by Hurriyat
chairman that the amalgam leaders want to meet Prime Minister AB Vajpayee.
But the Hurriyat chairman Prof. Abdul Ghani, is still reiterating that the
conference leaders should meet the two heads of State before or after the
summit. Prof. Bhat explained that ‘we are the principal party to the Kashmir
dispute, hence our inclusion into the talks is necessary.’
The earlier stand taken by Islamabad over the issue of meeting between Gen.
Musharraf and the Hurriyat leaders differs from the tone adopted in the
letter sent to the Hurriyat leaders. Observers point out that the visiting
Pakistani authorities have time and again made it clear that a meeting
between the Hurriyat leaders and Gen. Musharraf was subject to New Delhi’s
approval. The Pakistan government had also made it clear that any meeting
between the Hurriyat leaders and President Musharraf should not affect the
atmosphere ahead of the Agra summit.
On the other hand some of the goodwill gestures taken by Prime Minister
Vajpayee are believed to be a reply to Pakistan’s stand that Kashmir was the
core issue. It is generally felt that on one hand Mr Vajpayee has given the
impression that India was keen to normalize ties with Pakistan and on the
other hand the idea was to concentrate on issues other than Kashmir.
But Hurriyat’s worries have not come to an end with the General’s reply. The
main talk of the past few weeks was isolation of Hurriyat and its being
relegated to the sidelines. There were detailed deliberations within the
amalgam to counter the attempts to sideline it. Pakistan’s role had
discouraged many of the Hurriyat leaders. One of the senior leaders, Abdul
Ghani Lone, openly criticized Pakistan by saying that both India and
Pakistan had their eyes on the land of Kashmir and had no sympathies with
its people. Lone came under sharp criticism in the 5 July central executive
meeting for this statement. He, however, was not present in the said
meeting. The Hurriyat leadership has not given up the hopes to get a similar
reply from the Indian premier too. A senior leader of the amalgam told MG
that they expect a reply from Mr. Vajpayee after the Agra summit.
The central government had offered the conference unconditional talks with
the center’s interlocutor KC Pant. But the conference refused to talk to Mr
Pant and insisted instead on the inclusion of Pakistan in the talks. This
attitude of the Hurriyat is believed to have annoyed the center a lot and it
opted for a fresh track by inviting Pakistan president for talks.
The government of India has now taken the view that Hurriyat has no role to
play in the negotiations between India and Pakistan. The Hurriyat, on the
other hand, argues that it enjoys the basic position in the Kashmir dispute
and its inclusion into talks at any stage cannot be ignored. Sources in the
conference told MG that its leaders will be joining the high tea party being
hosted at Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. Hurriyat has taken the plea
that the central government has no basis to object to Hurriyat leaders’
participation in the said party saying that they have been attending such
parties in the Delhi-based Pakistan mission. In addition to attending
national day functions, Hurriyat leaders have been visiting the Pakistan
high commission to have frequent meetings with the high commissioner.