Vantage point

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hurriyat's Pak Visit

The Hurriyat went to PoK, crossed over into Pakistan, and came back. Exactly whom did the visit benefit and whom did it harm? I am confused, because both the Pakistani hardliners, like that hypocrite terror-monger Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and the Indian hard-liners, like the VHP, are upset at the visit. The common man on the street is not sure what to make of it.

There is no denying the fact the Hurriyat guys took a lot of liberties with rules, regulations and protocol. They said they would cross over on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, but actually travelled in private vehicles. Secondly, they crossed over into Pakistan without a visa, even though the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route has been opened only on the conditions that visitors restrict themselves to J&K and POK.

Now to look at what the Hurriyat leaders said while in Pakistan. It was all surprisingly devoid of any hatred towards India. They urged, albeit unsuccessfully, the terrorists in Pakistan to give up the gun and join the peace process. They spoke about how terrorism was disrupting life in the valley. And they made optimistic noises about the whole process.

Of course, Yaseen Malik, whose mental sanity is on par with V.P.Singh, Arjun Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi, made us all laugh extremely hard at the expense of Sheikh Rasheed, the Pakistani Information Minister. . At a function, compelled to praise his hosts, with a sentiment that Advani would understand only too well, Malik got nostalgic about the good ole days when Rasheed was a part of training them for terrorism at the camps in PoK. The ground suddenly slipped from beneath the feet of Sheikh Rasheed, a part of the government of Musharraf's "modern Islamic state".

The Pakistanis went blue in the face denying it, side-stepped several uncomfortable questions about their Info-Min being a former terrorist trainer, and looked towards the sky. Yaseen Malik, inspite of the fact that every word was captured by TV cameras, denied ever saying it, and said he had been misquoted. This standard defence even in the face of TV evidence, proves that Malik is at heart an Indian politician.

So what did the visit achieve? For one, it sidelined Geelani's hardline faction which still believes that terrorism is the answer in Kashmir. It sent positive messages as no venom was spewed anywhere. The Hurriyat fellows also ended up supproting Musharraf's "Kashmir Formula of the Week", which this week happens to suggest autonomy sans independence, soemthing India would willingly love to talk about. So we also saw the Hurriyat, for the first time, even if tacitly, letting go of the 'Azaadi' concept.