Churlish charlatans of the Hurriyat

The Hurriyat now refuses to speak to the visiting Indian Prime Minister

When the previous central government sent its special ‘interlocutor’ to Kashmir to pursue a dialogue with the separatists, the self-appointed spokesmen of the Kashmiri people refused to meet him, insisting that they would speak to no less a personality than the Prime Minister of India himself.

Now that the honourable Prime Minister of India is going all the way to Kashmir, offering unconditional dialogue with anyone, and after making some very significant peace offerings, the Hurriyat has again refused to meet him — asking that they be allowed to visit Pakistan to meet the leadership on ‘the other side’.

The Hurriyat’s Mirwaiz, of course, had an ‘opportune’ meeting with Gen Musharraf in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, where they spent two hours together. But of course, meeting the Indian Prime Minister is less important that meeting with those ‘leaders’ on the other side. And even before Dr Manmohan Singh made any announcement, the Hurriyat was quick to discount his proposed development package. No one expects the Hurriyat to be grateful, but it need not be thankless.

In what K Subrahmanyam calls the ‘winter of promise‘, Musharraf has signaled a willingness to climb down from the Simla agreement and halt infiltration; Manmohan Singh has announced unilateral troop withdrawals; the Hurriyat has done nothing whatsoever.

The Hurriyat does not condemn terrorism. It refuses to engage in serious discussions with the Indian government. Its everchanging excuses, which it tries to pass off as pre-conditions, are idiosyncratic and often whimsical. It does not represent the Kashmiri people. It must not be allowed to pass off as a potential partner for peace. If it cannot take bold steps towards peace it must be denied the political oxygen that keeps it from collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.

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