The Hurriyat’s bough is rotting away

Hurriyat ‘moderates’ are in a disarray because of their own hypocrisy

Praveen Swami chronicles the latest developments in the Hurriyat. The hardline Islamic fundamentalists of the Jamaat-e-Islami ‘organisation’, backed by Hizbul Mujahideen, its armed ‘faction’ are on the ascendency. This leaves the moderate elements of the Hurriyat, which was playing peek-a-boo over talks with the Indian government, in a state of disarray.

The moderates are suffering because of their own lack of conviction. And they lack conviction because they lack representative credentials. Once the Indian government began warming up to the Hurriyat, its Pakistani architects got worried and promptly pulled the plug, leaving the Hurriyat grasping for the correct end ‘of a rotting bough’. The Islamic hardliners and their terrorist offspring had no such problems – their stand was consistently in favour of an Islamic turn towards Pakistan.

Contrary to Praveen Swami’s conclusion, the fracture of the Hurriyat and the rise of the Jamaat-e-Islami may not be such a bad thing after all. Once it is in the media’s spotlights, the ugly face of the Kashmiri militancy and its sinister links to Pakistan and its Islamic fundamentalists will be clear to everyone, including to the Kashmiri people and to the Indian lofty-softies who insist on pursuing pointless talks with recalcitrant terrorists. The ‘healing touch’ leadership of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed will also need to take an unequivocal stand, and it will be hard put to side with the Islamists.

In the end, peace and development in Kashmir require engagement between the Indian government and the Kashmiri people. And the Hurriyat was never a representative of the latter, the Jamaat-e-Islami even less. While the Indian government should be willing to talk to engage organisation that is unequivocally against terrorism; but also realise that true leadership and legitimacy come only when those organisations are willing to put themselves at the mercy of the electorate.

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