Monday, February 26, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

New ray of hope for Hurriyat
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 25
Fresh indication by the government on the issue of giving passports to All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders has given a new impetus to the moves aimed at carrying forward the process started by the unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said yesterday that the government was considering if the Hurriyat delegation should be allowed to visit Pakistan. He also said the government was willing to talk to all those who came forward for talks.

Hurriyat officials, who had been accusing the government of not going beyond the extension of the ceasefire, said today that they were hopeful of travelling to Pakistan and carrying the peace initiative forward. The issue of Hurriyat leaders travelling to Pakistan, which was in the limelight soon after the ceasefire was announced, was put on the backburner after a spurt in civilian killings in the valley and the government’s involvement with providing succour to those affected by the Gujarat quake.

Hurriyat leaders have said that if the government allowed its delegation to travel to Pakistan, it would help in the start of the dialogue process. They say that the ball was in government’s court and the Hurriyat would react only after the government made its stand known on the passports issue. Some US Congressmen, who were in India and had met the Hurriyat leaders here, also favoured APHC delegation going to Pakistan.

However, serious differences have cropped up within the APHC itself, with a senior leader Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who represents the Jamat-e-Islami in the Hurriyat, describing the Kashmir problem as “religious” against the stated Hurriyat stand.

He has also criticised senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Lone for his “secular outlook.” The APHC is believed to have written a letter to the Amir-i-Jamat of the Jamat-e-Islami to replace Mr Geelani on the Hurriyat executive.

A meeting of the Hurriyat executive is likely to be convened next week to take stock of the recent developments.

APHC leaders in verbal duel
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 25
The All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), the largest conglomerate of 23 political and religious organisations, is facing a threat to its existence following a verbal duel between People’s Conference headed by Mr Abdul Gani Lone and Jamait-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

During the past three months, Mr Geelani is being gradually isolated. The People’s Conference has not stomached Mr Geelani’s criticism of Mr Lone. Mr Geelani had made critical remarks about Mr Lone’s statements in Pakistan and after his return to India.

Mr Lone’s men got an opportunity to hit back at Mr Geelani when they berated him for treating the Kashmir issue as a religious problem. The People’s Conference has reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a political problem as is claimed by Pakistan’s Chief Executive and the Chief of the Jamait-e-Islami, Mr G.M. Bhat.

The People’s Conference blames Mr Geelani for creating problems for the APHC which is engaged in a serious discussion on the Kashmir issue.

The APHC Chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, is said to have sent a communication to Jamait-e-Islami chief G.M. Bhat, suggesting him to recall Mr Geelani, who represents the Jamait-e-Islami in the APHC. Prof Bhat has also suggested to the Jamaat Amir to depute someone else to represent the party in the APHC because Mr Geelani, the communication alleges, has created indiscipline in the conglomerate by his utterances, usually at variance with the APHC stand.

Informed sources say the conflict between Mr Geelani and the rest of the Hurriyat leaders, except Mr Sheikh Aziz Ahmed of the People’s League, is the result of a tussle between the hawks and the moderates. Mr Geelani represents the hawks. A majority of other members of the executive committee are treated as moderates.

The moderates believe that the delay in grant of passports to the APHC team has been the outcome of Delhi’s reluctance to include Mr Geelani in the team that proposes to visit Pakistan for discussions on the Kashmir issue.

The sources say Mr Geelani has decided to fight back. He had been charged by the People’s Conference with trying to amend the APHC constitution for prolonging the two-year term of its Chairman. The People’s Conference had alleged that Mr Geelani was trying to retain his seat as party chief for another year.

The APHC executive had rejected the amendment and when the elections took place Mr Geelani succeeded in getting Prof Bhat elected against Mr Lone. Mr Lone had taken to heart Mr Geelani’s machinations which forced him to taste defeat.

At that stage Mr Geelani was outclassed by the moderates in the Jamait-e-Islami headed by Mr G.M. Bhat. During these six months the scenario has changed within the Jamait-e-Islami and Mr Geelani has succeeded in getting support from fence-sitters.

He is trying to prepare for a showdown either with the APHC conglomerate or the Jamait-e-Islami. Mr Geelani is said to be enrolling former militants and rebels released from detention.

This move is aimed at fortifying his position by having musclemen and gunmen around him to ward off verbal attacks from critics in the APHC and the Jamait-e-Islami.

Informed sources say if Mr Geelani finds himself totally isolated, he may float an organisation comprising those who have been vocal on Kashmir’s incorporation with Pakistan.Back

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