Don’t waste any more time on the Hurriyat

By consistently refusing to be part on any solution, the Hurriyat has again demonstrated how much it is a part of the problem.

The Indian government is throwing a big party. The who’s who of Jammu & Kashmir’s political spectrum — both separatists and others — are invited. But the Hurriyat won’t turn up. That should not be surprising. It should also expose the simple fact that there can be no real dialogue or ‘negotiations’ with the Hurriyat. Even before Dr Manmohan Singh’s big tent caucus with representatives from Jammu & Kashmir state, the contours of India’s future policy should be clear: more than attempting to engage their front organisations and apologists, it is defeating the jihadis that comes first.

Praveen Swami exposes typical Hurriyat double-talk. The main reason for its refusal to participate in a broad-based dialogue with the Indian government is its desire to project itself as the sole representative of the Kashmiri people. Yet, it had no compunction in meeting Gen Musharraf in Pakistan in the company of other political parties from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. As Swami writes, ‘it appears that the (Hurriyat) and the other secessionists want a deal which hands them power, not a real dialogue’. The fact remains that the Hurriyat has been given far too many chances to turn itself into a credible player that a democratic government can deal with. It missed every single one of them. It rejected elections. It violated the terms of a compact that allowed its leaders to visit Pakistan. Even a major humanitarian disaster didn’t stop it from scoring political points. And now it has rejected the dialogue. The only thing it has not rejected is terrorism. By consistently refusing to be part on any solution, the Hurriyat has demonstrated how much it is a part of the problem.

The Delhi Conference marks a fork in the road. The Indian government can either continue its fruitless pursuit of ‘negotiations’ with the Hurriyat, or it can give shape to a meaningful consensus on the state using the Delhi Conference to kick off an alternative rapprochement process. The choice should be pretty clear.

4 thoughts on “Don’t waste any more time on the Hurriyat”

  1. Hear Hear,

    Hurriyat is a group of self centred and venal politicians with no ground base.
    Any capiltulation to them will just embolden the separatist elements.

  2. Nitin: it would be interesting to see just how representative each of these people/organizations are. There are 14M people in undivided Kashmir – 10M in J&K and about 4M in PoK. Of the 10M, I’d expect about 5M to be eligible to vote (young population and all). About 400,000 folks actually voted in the last J&K election (4% turnout in Srinagar and surroundings areas did not help). Heard Yasin Malik collected 800,000 “signatures” in some campaign. Have no idea about the popularity of any of the others. I suspect Umar Farooq and co. need to cosy up tight to Pakistan partly because their only base is the Valley Sunnis. Anecdotally, some (valley) Kashmiris I’ve talked to claim that 33% support India (probably the wealthy ones) while 66% are mixed between azaadi and Pak.

  3. libertarian,

    I think the views of even a 4% turnout, voting in secret ballot and without coercion have more legitimacy than say twice as many numerically, who sign up in signature campaign conducted by terrorists.

  4. Nitin: agree with your contention of legitimacy from secret-ballot vs. signature campaign. But 800,000 “signatures” must minimally designate the recipient as a party of “interest” (though not representative) – something Manmohan Singh has offered. I also think it’s important to distinguish the irretrievable Pak lackeys (Umar Farooq, Geelani) from the more independent ones – divide et impera.

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