Pakistan shifts to hard line on Kashmir; local leaders still fine with the 'Musharraf formula'
A series of interviews following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashmir a week ago have given a clear insight into why he did not allude to India-Pakistan talks.
A series of interviews following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashmir a week ago have given a clear insight into why he did not allude to India-Pakistan talks. Evidently, Pakistan is not willing for a solution along the lines of wide autonomy on both sides of the Line of Control and overall joint management – which is commonly known as `the Musharraf four-point plan.’
Although a wide spectrum of other Kashmiri leaders still endorses this flexible formula, Hizb-ul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin told a Kashmiri interviewer in Pakistan that talks had to be triangular and should move towards implementing the UN resolutions for a plebiscite.
The interview, which Salahuddin gave to Kashmiri youth leader Touseef Raina, was published on 11 November in the Srinagar-based daily Kashmir Images. Since Hizb has been armed, financed, trained and closely coordinated by the Pakistan Army’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence, this interview indicates that Pakistan’s Army is not currently in tune with the position laid down by former army chief, Musharraf.
As if to confirm that this is now the line of the Pakistani state and not only of its Army, extremist leader Asiya Andrabi announced on 13 November that Pakistan Prime Minister had written this to her too.
She shared Nawaz Sharif’s letter to her with the press. In it, he wrote: "The essence of the principles of partition is that the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir should be given the right to self determination. This right has been recognized by the entire world through the forum of the United Nations. …lapse of a long time does not mean that these resolutions have become outdated.”
On the other hand, a range of other leaders within Kashmir do not share this hard-line position. This range includes a wide spectrum, from former Union cabinet minister and diehard pro-India leader Farooq Abdullah to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. Both told this writer last week that they were eager for India-Pakistan talks to go forward. Both blamed India for intransigence.
The Mirwaiz said he wanted Kashmiri leaders to be consulted as well but did not insist that they necessarily be at the India-Pakistan table for talks. Describing the ten years of the UPA government as `pathetic’ with regard to a Kashmir solution, the Mirwaiz said that `we were hoping Modi would be Vajpayee 2.0,’ but `there is no comparison.’
Abdullah went further, insisting that Pakistan was committed to the four-point formula that General Pervez Musharraf had proposed when India-Pakistan talks were in full steam about a decade ago. On the other hand, he said India was being inflexible. "Pakistan is willing to settle – autonomy under India here, and under them there. They want a solution that will not make them lose face," he asserted.
The moderate faction of the Hurriyat has shown great flexibility in backing the `Musharraf formula.’ It is quite possible that this group could gain power under that arrangement – which could explain why `hard-liners’ such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Syed Salauhddin and Aasiya Andrabi are against the scheme.
Pakistan seems eager to bring the Mirwaiz in line with their current objectives, but the latter has shown flexibility in order to promote a resolution. The Mirwaiz revealed that he had told Pakistan High Commissioner Basit not to invite Hurriyat leaders to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when the latter visited Delhi to attend Modi’s investiture as prime minister. The Mirwaiz did not visit Delhi even when he was invited before the scheduled foreign secretary level talks.
Despite this, he said that there had been absolutely no initiatives from New Delhi, whether back-channel, informal or just some preliminary feelers to the Hurriyat. Emphasizing the urgency for negotiations to move forward, Mirwaiz Umar observed that the current militants were often inspired by the idea of a khilafat, and there was a possibility of militant anarchy in the period ahead.
"We had influence in the past but not on this generation of militants," the Mirwaiz said. His colleague and former chairman of the Hurriyat, Abdul Ghani Bhat, added a more somber note in a separate interview. "Kashmir has assumed monstrous dimensions in my calculation," he warned.
Analyzing the range of recent interviews, the bottom-line appears to be that every sort of Kashmiri leader backs Indo-Pak talks in one or other paradigm. The crucial difference between militants and others is a deal-breaker.
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