New Delhi, Jan.18 (ANI): The cold wave in Kashmir, with the temperature going south, icy winds and snowfall does not leave much scope for physical activity. Nevertheless, politics have not taken a backstage and the spate of agitations that were witnessed in the months gone by have been replaced by a spate of political statements made in well orchestrated forums with the intention of building postures that will come in handy once the weather opens up.
The first statement came from the Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani who donned a pacifist robe and said that he is now looking towards an unarmed and peaceful struggle for self-determination rather than a violent uprising.
This was followed by a statement from Mirwaiz Omar Farooq who, in the course of a Friday prayers sermon at the Jama Masjid, digressed from his favourite theme of "Azaadi" to question Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's administrative capability. He spoke of the inability of the government to provide basic amenities like uninterrupted electricity to the people of Kashmir and for good measure added that given a chance his organisation would do a much better job in this field also.
Then came a bolt from the blue from Abdul Ghani Bhat, another senior Hurriyat leader, who during the course of a seminar provided credence to an open secret by admitting that senior leaders of Kashmir like his own brother Mohammad Bhat, Maulvi Farooq, the father of the present Mirwaiz and Abdul Ghani Lone were killed, not by the security forces or government agencies, but by militants. He added on a sentimental note that today in Kashmir the killer and the killed are both buried in the same so called martyr's grave.
Not to be outdone, Syed Sallah-ud-Din, the Chairman of the Pakistan based United Jihad Council has said that he is ready for talks with India if New Delhi is "sincere' in its commitment to a resolution of the Kashmir issue
The first thought that comes in mind after registering the aforementioned statements is that there is no convergence of interest whatsoever amongst the various leaders who profess to be stakeholders in Kashmir, not even between those who can be considered to be on the same side of the fence. The second aspect that is very obvious is that the whole gamut is being played to gain a position of political advantage once the action starts with the advent of spring.
One also has to view the changing tenor of political speech within the separatist camp in the context of changing scenario within the larger region comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir including Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The global community is fast realising that Pakistan is a failed State totally and is under the control of fundamentalist forces.
The recent assassination of Salman Taseer, one of the few liberal voices in the country is a case in point. Under such circumstances, hardliners like Geelani understand that they cannot gain much by eulogising Pakistan. Further, the rejection by the people of Geelani's politics of disruption, especially the adverse affect that they are having on the education of the younger generation has forced him to tone down his activities for the time being.
The Mirwaiz has taken his present posture to offset the setback faced by his organisation due to its failure to derail Omar Abdullah's government despite a massive campaign ofl disruption that led to unprecedented violence, economic loss and the death of many youngsters. The Chief Minister is not only firmly in control but is also more confident and mature; hence the need to attack him on his soft belly of governance.
Abdul Gani Bhat is attempting to resurrect his failing career by occupying the space that has been vacated by Geelani. Syed Sallah-ud-Din is paving the way for increasing infiltration once the weather opens up on the premise that the olive branch offered by him was not taken by India.
This is the time to lead the separatists on the road to introspection by posing some relevant questions. Geelani has for the past six months done nothing but incite violence against the State machinery and the common man. So why this sudden change of heart along with the change in the weather? Mirwaiz has always kept aloof from issues concerning the welfare and development of his people so why this sudden interest in governance? What new evidence has come to light after nearly two decades that has motivated Abdul Gani Bhat to conclude that the assassinations were the handiwork of separatists themselves? Why has he taken so long to speak out against the perpetrators of this heinous crime? Could Syed Sallah-ud-Din kindly elaborate as to how the Indian government can express "sincerity" enough for him to take at least one concrete step forward instead of parroting the same statement at the same period of time year after year?
This is the time for all nationalist forces to converge and expose the self centered policies of the separatist camp. The opposition perties at the national and the State level should ensure they are poised to give a strong response, in concert with the government, against those who pose a bigger threat to the national cause.
With respect to a reduction in vigilance in the State, one cannot but agree with the Army Chief that the situation is as yet not conducive for any precipitate action either in troop reduction or in toning down laws like the Disturbed Areas Act or the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that assist security procedures in the region.
The bottom line is that one cannot be swayed by the aura of peace generated more due to adverse weather rather than any change of heart amongst those holding inimical interests towards the State of J and K and the Nation at large. It is necessary to read between the lines and prepare for the future just as these forces are preparing themselves. By Jaibans Singh (ANI)