Pakistan uniting Hurriyat, strengthens militancy in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, Oct 30: Feeling that divided separatist leadership in Kashmir has failed to serve its interests, Pakistan is making desperate efforts to unite two factions of Hurriyat Conference under the leadership of hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Sources said that renewed efforts are being made as Pakistan feels that divided Hurriyat Conference is ineffective and has failed to serve their interests.

The efforts came at a time when Pakistan is trying to strengthen militancy in Jammu and Kashmir by pushing in more militants into the State. Army maintains that around 500 militants are desperately waiting for cross over into Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan has made desperate efforts this year along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) to push in more militants. Army claims that they have foiled majority of the efforts but sources said that a large number of them have managed to infiltrate into the State. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah last week put this year’s infiltration figure at around 80.

The strengthening of the militancy comes over a decade after Pakistan had to officially stop supporting militancy in Kashmir after United States asked it to close down all militant camps following 9/11 attack on the US.

Sources said that on one hand Pakistan is strengthening the militancy while on the other hand they are trying to unite the separatist amalgam to strengthen the separatist political leadership.

Pakistan feels that for the past few years separatists particularly moderate faction has failed to galvanize people’s support in Kashmir and despite their efforts past two years there has been relative calm in the Kashmir, sources said.

Pakistan had earlier made its bid to unite two factions of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Omar Farooq but it failed to bring them on common platform following Geelani’s refusal to share platform with former Hurriyat Chairman and moderate leader Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Hurriyat Conference Executive member Bilal Lone.

Senior separatist leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan made desperate efforts two years ago to unite Geelani’s and Mirwaiz factions of Hurriyat Conference. They were short of bringing the two factions together but Geelani’s refusal to rub shoulders with some of the moderate Hurriyat leaders proved to be a stumbling block.

Geelani feels that Bhat’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir issue has become soft over the years and he has even described the United Nations Security Council Resolution of Jammu and Kashmir as irrelevant. And he feels that Bilal Lone and his brother Sajjad Lone had fielded proxy candidate in 2002 Assembly elections. These are the main reason for his refusal to share the platform with them.

Geelani pulled out of the Hurriyat Conference in 2002 soon after the Assembly elections as he alleged that some of the constituents of the separatist amalgam fielded proxies in the election and Mirwaiz failed to take disciplinary action against them.

Feeling that Geelani has been more potent in rallying people around him, Pakistan wants central role for him in the new set up. Geelani had been sidelined by former President of Pakistan General Parvez Musharraf after he refused to toe his line on Jammu and Kashmir and refused to subscribe to his four point formula for resolving the issue.

On the other hand moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Omar Farooq was ardent supporter of Musharraf formula on Jammu and Kashmir. Geelani was officially sidelined by Pakistan till Musharraf was in power.

Sources said, feeling lesser role in the new set up, former chairman Professor Abdul Gani Bhat is in Pakistan to persuade Pakistani leadership not to give Geelani central role. Mirwaiz Omar is also visiting Pakistan later this year to seek more role for his faction in the united separatist amalgam.

Sources said that the Pakistan based United Jehad Council chairman Syed Salahudin is playing key role in bringing separatist leadership together. Since, he is heading the militant leadership his role in bringing the separatist leadership is said to be vital.