You can disagree with him, you can abuse him and even you can hate him, but you can not ignore him. This is what one can say with firm belief about aged separatist leader of Jammu Kashmir, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Because he knows the art of making himself felt . In the past twenty years of trouble in Jammu Kashmir, this is first time that Syed Ali Shah Geelani has at least expressed his willingness to consider the dialogue with the government of India if approached properly . He gave this indication on 20th of October 20, 2011 during a presses conference at his Srinagar residence . Though he has still linked it with the discussion in his core committee but didn’t reject the dialogue offer out rightly as he has been doing in past .
In the past twenty years of trouble in Jammu Kashmir, government of India used its all channels and resources to rope in the Kashmiri separatist leadership . In this process, every Huriyat leader was contacted by the official and non official men deployed by government for this purpose, but none of them succeeded to get Geelani’s consent for dialogue . Every time he rejected the offer out rightly . And it was only Geelani who remained major obstacle in the way of those Huriyat ( Separatist ) leaders who were up to some extent ready to deal with government of India . We can say, despite all efforts of interlocution open and secret carried by government of India failed to yield any result with the absence of Geelani in the process.
On October 20, 2011, while addressing a press conference at his Srinagar residence , Geelani surprised many when he expressed his willingness to consider dialogue offer by government of India if approached properly . The first time flexibility in his stand is seen through many angles by the observers keeping close watch on Kashmir affairs . Observers say , the flexibility in Geelani’s stand on Kashmir came after Pakistaan indicated to declare India as favorite country . Observers say , Geelani the known supporter of Pakistan in Kashmir has finally realized the ground realities and changing scenario of the world . He may also have felt that the country (Pakistan) for which he has been fighting for decades together is ready to deal with India with out taking him in to confidence . In such circumstances , Geelani may have realized to have been isolated and he took the decision of dealing with India . There is an other argument of the observers about the flexibility shown by Geelani . They say Pakistan might have also played a role to get Geelani involved in the dialogue process with India . There is an other reason also which may be behind Geelani’s flexibility, some analyst is of the opinion that in the present fast changing scenario of the world against extremism, Geelani may have felt the need to show the world he is not extremist and wants dialogue . Moreover, he was always accused of rigid person by his opponents, showing some flexibility may also be his an attempt of imaging building . But most of the observes is of the view the the cange in Geelani’s stand is the out come of the Pakistan’s unconditional building relations with India.
In fact, each time when ever dialogue process between India and Pakistan was started, India always put the first condition before Pakistan to get back from any type of support to the Kashmiri troublers. And Geelani was the known over ground and public face of Pakistan in Kashmir . India has not only put this condition before Pakistan , it has always been highlighting this issue at international level and it succeeded to convince most of the western powers against the role of Pakistan in Kashmir . It is also possible that under international pressure Pakistan may have played a role to engage Geelani with India . This can be gauged with the fact that in recent past , Pakistan foreign minister Heena Rubaani Khar had also said in her statement that she has all respect for Syed Ali Shah Geelani though he is a rigid . It means Pakistan has been persuading Geelani to shun rigidity and get himself adjusted with India . What so ever the factor had been remained in the changing mood of Syed Ali Shah Geelani but it is a big development in the political scenario of Kashmir . Because it was only Geelani factor which always sabotaged all efforts of Government of India in Jammu and Kashmir .
Most of the observers is of the opinion that it is the golden opportunity for India to settle Kashmir dispute by travelling some extra miles from its existing official position . And what ever the Kashmir agreement government of India wants to do , must do with Geelani . Leaving aside his political opinion and ideology , Geelani has a capacity to mobilize the masses in Kashmir and world is witness of his bandh and shut down calls . He is the person who has attained a stature of like a spiritual person among his followers and he is the only hope of those who are extremely against India in Kashmir . In short it is the Good news for India at least, and Indian leadership should also travel some extra miles from their traditional stop . Otherwise all type of interlocution with out his participation is a futile exercise .
( The author is a working journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 9419170570 )