THE MYSTERIOUS MIRWAIZ OF KASHMIR

THE MYSTERIOUS MIRWAIZ OF KASHMIR

The admission by the Hurriyat (M) chairman Umar Farookh that he and his delegation had met “many commanders and leaders” who are “part of Kashmir movement militarily,” has come a bit too late for comfort. Too late, because for reasons unexplained, the Mirwaiz chose to keep information regarding these meetings under wraps until the media exposed the same. And by doing so, he has not only damaged his own image and standing amongst the people of Kashmir who expect their leaders to be truthful and forthright, but by refusing to name the “commanders and leaders” he had met, has fuelled the  speculation that there is something more than what meets the eye!

In his very first press conference after his return from Pakistan, the Mirwaiz spoke regarding the possibility of the Taliban entering Kashmir in case the ‘K’ Issue was not resolved before the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. He claimed that he had based this assessment on “an element of fear in the political leadership, media and civil society in the country (Pakistan)” in this regards. This statement in itself lent to suspicion since, though some military analysts have expressed such an apprehension, it has not yet caught the imagination of the political leadership, civil society or the media in Pakistan, which is presently pre-occupied with other more pressing issues like terrorism, sectarian violence and political instability. Tehelka, a media house renowned for its investigative journalism has quoted a delegate who visited Pakistan as saying that “Both (Hafiz)Saeed and (Syed) Salahuddin told us that militancy in Kashmir would escalate after the US-led international troops depart from Afghanistan in 2014.” So, is the Mirwaiz really echoing the sentiments of the Pakistani leadership, civil society and the media as he claims, or merely acting as the spokesperson of Syed Sallaudin and Hafiz Sayeed?

The Mirwaiz’s claim that, “It is in a sense good that many of them (militant leaders)  share the same perception that Kashmir issue is resolved peacefully and they are willing to support” certainly goes against the stated position of these groups. In fact, as late as on January 5, the UJC chief and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Sallaudin announced that, “the real decisive power lies in the armed struggle.” The Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz Sayeed too has given no indication that he is willing to give up the ‘armed struggle’ in favour of a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue. So what is the Mirwaiz talking about? Tehelka, again quotes a Hurriyat (M) delegate who visited Pakistan saying that, “Both (Hafiz) Saeed and (Syed) Salahuddin disapproved of dialogues between India and Pakistan.” And if this is true, then why is the Mirwaiz giving us false hopes? Is it just to support his own view that his visit to Pakistan was a ‘great success’?

While his meeting with Syed Sallaudin, who is a Kashmiri, is understandable, the reasons for the Mirwaiz to seek an audience with Hafiz Sayeed defy comprehension. Being a non-Kashmiri, Hafiz Sayeed is certainly not a stakeholder in J&K imbroglio resolution process in any capacity. Agreed that his LeT outfit is waging ‘armed struggle’ in J&K, but then the Hurriyat being committed to seeking resolution of the Kashmir issue solely through peaceful means does not espouse violence in any form. Thus, since there is no ideological convergence whatsoever between the Hurriyat (which stresses that the ongoing struggle is completely ‘indigenous’) and the LeT (which is primarily a non-Kashmiri outfit), how can there be a meeting ground between the two unless either or both make concessions in their basic philosophies. We all know how passionately Hafiz Sayeed defends his philosophy of violence and when even America failed to subdue him by announcing a bounty on his head, it is unlikely that the Mirwaiz would have decided to meet Hafiz Sayeed in order to convert him into a peacenik. So, why did they meet? And if they met, then why is the Mirwaiz still trying to keep this meeting a secret?

The Mirwaiz should realise the dangers of putting one’s fingers in too many pies. He should also realise that his present standing as a moderate leader is bound to be eroded if he is not careful about what he does, with whom he meets and what secrets he keeps. New Delhi holds Hafiz Sayeed responsible for the Mumbai attacks and wants him to be brought to justice. By announcing and subsequently withdrawing the bounty announced on him, America too has sent a clear signal of its profound dislike for Hafiz Sayeed. So, does it make political sense to associate with him? Lastly, the Mirwaiz should also understand that by keeping secrets from his own people, he runs the grave risk of losing their confidence and being marginalised if not alienated.

Tailpiece: In retrospect, the Mirwaiz’s trip to Pakistan has raised more doubts and left many an unanswered questions and it is time that the Hurriyat (M) chairman comes out clean- if not for our sake, then at least for the sake of preserving his own image!