Now call the bluff
India’s Home Minister Shivraj Patil has offered unconditional talks to the Hurriyat, and his deputy has challenged them rise above their internal politics and come forward to talk. Did the Manmohan Singh-Musharraf tete-a-tete have anything to do with this?
Perhaps. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the interim leader of the Geelani-less Hurriyat was in Saudi Arabia meeting an all star ISI team, lead by its chief, Lt Gen Ehsan ul Haque, and Sardar Abdul Qayyum, a former president of Pakistani Kashmir. The gentlemen from Pakistan are possibly trying to engineer a merger of the moderate faction led by the Mirwaiz, and the pro-Pakistani faction led by the angry old man, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Something is cooking in Saudi Arabia.
The Hurriyat is quite likely to continue to keep reading from the Pakistani script as it has always been doing. Speaking to this clique may achieve nothing more than some improvement in the atmospherics – it is not within the power of the Hurriyat to put a stop to terrorism in Kashmir. They remain fearful of testing their claims to popular support. Now that it has offered unconditional talks, can the India government go ahead and call the Hurriyat’s bluff by asking to to stop the ‘armed struggle’ while they parley?