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Exclusive: J&K ceasefire likely
Arif Jamal in Islamabad |
June 17, 2005 18:39 IST
Militant groups in Kashmir may soon agree to a ceasefire.
With the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, the Indian government and Islamabad under pressure to show results from the Hurriyat leaders' 15-day Pakistan visit, the ceasefire may be a perfect face-saver for all three.
The decision to declare a ceasefire was taken after a series of secret meetings between senior Hurriyat leaders and heads of militant groups in Pakistan.
Also see: Hurriyat leaders return from Pak, PoK visit
According to the agreed formula, the Hurriyat Conference, probably after the reunification of its two factions, would make an appeal from Srinagar to both -- the militant groups and India -- to cease fire.
However, it is not clear yet how the reunification of two Hurriyat groups -- one led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and the other by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani -- would be achieved.
It is also not clear whether Pakistan and India have approved the ceasefire idea formally.
Mehmood Saghar, Pakistan-based senior vice-president of the Democratic Freedom Party, said the details of the ceasefire agreement have been worked out.
According to a United Jihad Council member, some members are resisting the idea of a ceasefire.
Hurriyat backs Musharraf's Kashmir formula
The Hurriyat leaders have for long been committed to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio. However, if they make an appeal for a ceasefire, it will be their first.
Though there are doubts whether militants would heed their appeal, but that is where, people in the know of things say, Pakistan will step in.
"It is for Pakistan to ask the militants to declare a ceasefire. It is not for the Hurriyat Conference to ask or appeal to the mujahideen to put down guns," Hurriyat Conference delegate Fazlul Haq Qureshi told this correspondent.
Refusing to divulge the contents of their secret meetings with militant leaders, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik described the meetings as "courtesy calls."
Also see: Hurriyat says Pak has no solution to offer
Most of the Hurriyat leaders argued for peace in their meetings with militant groups. However, at least one Hurriyat Conference leader is said to have asked Hizbaul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin, at one of the meetings, to continue militancy in order to maintain an edge over the Indians.
The United Jihad Council had decided not to hold any formal meetings with the visiting Hurriyat Conference delegation.
"We decided to receive the Hurriyat Conference leaders individually and not as part of the Hurriyat Conference delegation," a United Jihad Council member told this correspondent.
"To my knowledge, only the leaders of the Jamiatul Mujahideen and Hizbul Momineen from the United Jihad Council refused to meet any Hurriyat Conference leader," he said.
Delegations of the Jamatud Dawah/Lashkar-e-Tayiba also held meetings with Hurriyat Conference leaders separately. However, it is not known if Hafiz Saeed (chief of the Jamatud Dawah and leader of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba) held any meeting with them.
The Hurriyat Conference leaders and Pakistan seem to have agreed to restructure the shattered Hurriyat Conference into a formidable alliance to press India to include representatives of Kashmiri people in the ongoing peace process.
Geelani among 20 held
Pakistan, quite clearly, has begun giving more importance to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The state-run Pakistan Television has begun referring to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the chief of the rival Hurriyat faction, as a buzurg (a respectable elderly man) leader instead as Hurriyat Conference chairman.
Another Hurriyat Conference leader told this correspondent that the prospects of the reunification of the Hurriyat Conference were never brighter than today.
According to the agreed-upon formula, the small splinter groups such as the Peoples League and Muslim Conference, which make up what is known as the Hurriyat Conference (Geelani group) will merge with their parent parties in the Hurriyat Conference (Ansari group).
Also see: Hurriyat moots United States of Kashmir
The parties such as the Anjaman-i-Shari Shian and National Front would rejoin the Hurriyat Conference (Ansari). Some of the new parties such as Shabbir Shah's Democratic Freedom Party will also join the united Hurriyat Conference.
The JKLF may be the last or one of the last parties to rejoin the Hurriyat Conference. Yasin Malik told this correspondent that the JKLF would rejoin the Hurriyat Conference only if it "really reunified."
There is still some confusion regarding Syed Ali Shah Geelani's political future.
Jamaat-e-Islami removes Geelani from advisory body
However, most sources insist that Pakistan and Geelani have not parted ways and the two will once again work in harmony. According to some sources in the Hurriyat Conference, Pakistan will once again extend an invitation to Geelani to visit Islamabad which he would most probably accept.
If all works to the script, Geelani would come and resolve his differences with Pakistan and will get a ceremonial post in the restructured Hurriyat Conference.
Some Hurriyat Conference leaders believe that, under the given international security situation and the ongoing war on terror, an extremist like Geelani is not acceptable to the international community, and hence to Pakistan. They believe Geelani will soon realise this.
Hurriyat leaders send confusing signals
Peoples Conference leader Bilal Lone expressed the majority view when he told this correspondent, "Geelani would become politically isolated if he does not rejoin the united Hurriyat Conference."