The Indo-Pak peaceniks in India are stirred by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq'scall from Islamabad for the Kashmir militancy to end. ?Its continuance will serve no purpose except to litter Kashmir with more graveyards? he said calling on Indian Government at the same time to begin negotiations with Pakistan on the basis of President Musharraf'sproposals.
The Mirwaiz who leads what is known as the ?dove? faction of the Hurriyat Conference was speaking after meeting President Musharraf and other political leaders of his host country. Such meetings are supposedly giving his call a certain locus standi specially since he met several militant bodies also.
The peaceniks on this side of the border are now echoing the Mirwaiz'scall and asking New Delhi to respond. As the Mirwaiz'scall comes close on the announcement of our Prime Minister'sprojected visit to Islamabad, it is not without a purpose. The purpose is obvious: to draw India into a dialogue in which the main proposal is to give Pakistan a say in Kashmir'sfuture?something it had long desired but never got. Successive governments here have resisted all such efforts of Pakistan to draw India into a negotiation in which Islamabad gets legitimacy for its claims over J&K.
The four point formula that the Pakistan President spelt out to NDTV'sPranoy Roy in a recorded interview may have been clothed in velvet. The President begins with a statement that these four points take into consideration the concerns of India as well as of his own country. He claims that they avoid what is not acceptable to India and also to Pakistan. In a way President Musharraf is putting forth a middle ground.
To a keen observer, however, the conspiracy of peace behind the whole exercise becomes evident. The Mirwaiz who was keen to visit Pakistan and now is calling for negotiations, had firmly rejected Dr. Manmohan Singh'sattempt to fathom what could be acceptable to Kashmiri leaders across the board by holding a round table conference of these leaders from the entire state in Srinagar. His faction of the Hurriyat had not attended the conference. What then is the purpose of Dr. Singh starting negotiations on the future of J&K with President Musharraf?
Umar Farooq'splan in rejecting the round table conference was to underline the secessionists? claim that India had no political locus standi in J&K except as an ?occupation? power. Though the Mirwaiz is saying that he is not supporting all the formulations in the Pakistan President'sproposals, he is ready to concede a share for Islamabad in the state'sfuture. The tilt in the story is evident if you go behind the rhetoric.
While the peaceniks on this side of the border may see light at the end of the tunnel in Mascara'sproposals South Block is unlikely to be bowled over. Only the other day our External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was in Islamabad. If the Pakistani President wanted India to consider his four-point proposals as a serious set for the negotiating table he could well have put them forth to the Indian Minister. Strangely he talks through third persons while his Government takes a tough stand on the other issues on which the Confidence Building Measures (CBM) are resting whether it is Siachin or Sir Creek.
New Delhi would be ignoring the national interest if it falls a prey to these velvet glove tactics of Islamabad. Musharaff is not taking any step to dismantle the terror training camps or cut off the funds being made available to these so called mujahideens. This is despite his assurances to successive Indian Prime Ministers from 1999onwards, more especially after 2003. Even the joint surveillance machinery he agreed to set up in his one to one meeting with Dr.Singh in Havana has not come into existence. Now that our security forces have gained upper hand over the militants in the valley, asking the latter to end militancy would be no great concession to India. At best it could be acceptance of the ground reality; at worst, it is a ploy to gain time and let the security forces drop their guard.
Whether they are doves or eagles, the Hurriyat members have consistently taken the stand opposing New Delhi'sclaim to speak on behalf of Kashmir. That was also behind the Hurriyat'srefusal to participate in the round table talks at Srinagar-Indian Government cannot speak for Kashmiris. Yet another evidence of the Hurriyat'sstand is its ignoring the issue of the Pandits of Kashmir. No one can question their roots in Kashmir. Then why are they forced to live in exile? Though Hurriyat leaders occasionally have mumbled some words inviting them back into the Valley, they have not taken any step to assure them even a semblance of security. How could any talks be held on the Valley'sfuture ignoring their views? The Hurriyat has no answer to this burning question.
The very first issue in J&K is militancy funded and supported by the Pakistani establishment. That even his closest ally, America is not convinced of the Pakistani President'sclaims about fighting jihadi terrorism is evident from the reports that the new Congress in the US is calling on the US President to calibrate military aid to Pakistan to credible evidence of Islamabad's action against origins of terrorism, is a clear indication of which way the wind blows. The US Press is coming up almost every day with new evidence that Pakistani President is protecting such militancy. The issue, therefore, is ending this clandestine support to terror strikers first and foremost. Only then could the other issues be put in perspective. Merely asking the militants to end their run of the Valley is not even a purposeful beginning. Even Umar Farooq would not be able to express himself freely so long as militants could keep him in the cross wire of their guns.
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected])