Hizbul Mujahideen Supremo, Syed Salahuddin (left) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa Chief, Hafiz Saeed (right). – File photo
Hizbul Mujahideen Supremo, Syed Salahuddin (left) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa Chief, Hafiz Saeed (right). – File photo

The moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC] led by the Kashmir Valley’s head priest, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, is under the scanner for ‘meeting’ Hafiz Saeed — India’s wanted man for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and Syed Salahuddin — the supreme commander of the United Jihad Council [UJC], an alliance of various militant outfits operating from Pakistan-administered Kashmir [PaK]. Sections of the Indian media termed Hurriyat’s recent visit to Pakistan as “terror conclave on Indian passport”.

Prior to their trip to Pakistan, the Hurriyat leaders claimed “they will talk business” but many perceived their visit as “remote controlled” in the first place. Now the Indian media is astounded after reports emerged that a Hurriyat delegation also met the alleged “26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, on Pakistan soil”.

India is firm that Saeed is the “Mumbai attacks mastermind”, but Pakistan maintains there is “lack of evidence” to “prove his guilt” in the court of law.

Even the supporters of the larger autonomy to the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir like Dr. Kamal A. Mitra Chenoy, well-known expert in International Affairs, felt “outraged” by the reported meeting of Hurriyat leaders with Saeed and Salahuddin.

Prof. Chenoy — Chair, Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory, School of International Studies, Jawahar Lal University, New Delhi – opined that it is a case of “bad judgment” on the part of the Hurriyat to meet “terrorists”. “Not only is Hafiz Saeed wanted by India in connection with the Mumbai terror attacks, he is also an international terrorist wanted by the Americans. I’m a supporter of the larger autonomy to Kashmir, but I will be outraged to hear that the Hurriyat leaders from Kashmir have met Saeed in Pakistan,” Prof. Chenoy told Dawn.com on phone from the Indian capital, New Delhi.

“If indeed they [Hurriyat leaders] have met the Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT] chief in Pakistan, they would be losing friends. They have been going to Pakistan on a regular basis. I don’t think that is an issue. But what benefit would they get by meeting an international terrorist?” he remarked.

A delegation led by Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq last month visited Pakistan and reportedly met Jamaat-ud-Dawa Chief, Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen Supremo, Syed Salahuddin, there. It could well be the case that the Hurriyat wanted to build a broader consensus on the issue of Kashmir, keeping in view the importance of all the major stakeholders of peace vis-à-vis Kashmir.

“Several leaders of Hurriyat are married to Pakistani women. They have their family connections with Pakistan. That again is not an issue. Some people in Kashmir were sympathetic towards Hurriyat’s visit, hoping for something positive. But it seems that the Hurriyat has been badly advised by their friends in America and the United Kingdom. Their reported meeting with Saeed has not served any purpose,” Prof. Chenoy added.

India’s weekly magazine Tehelka quoted one of the Hurriyat delegates as “confirming” this controversial meeting. “Both Saeed and Salahuddin told us [Hurriyat delegation] that militancy in Kashmir would escalate after the US-led international troops depart from Afghanistan in 2014,” Tehelka reported while quoting an unnamed Hurriyat delegate.

According to Tehelka, the Hurriyat delegation also met Pakistan Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who reportedly ruled out his country’s support for armed uprising in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir in future. The magazine also said that the meeting with the Pakistan Army Chief in Islamabad was well-publicised, but interactions with Saeed in Lahore and Salahuddin in Islamabad were kept private.

The Hurriyat Conference, meanwhile, is mysteriously tight-lipped on this issue. The APHC leaders are neither divulging details of their ‘meeting’ with two militia commanders nor denying meeting them. Their silence is only contributing to the ambiguity surrounding the ‘meeting’.

“Whoever we meet, we speak our mind right unto his heart, why should people make noises for just nothing…How does it matter who we meet? Who we meet is not important, what you talk about there is important,” Prof. A G Bhat, a senior Hurriyat leader, was quoted by India Today having said so.

Pakistan had invited Hurriyat’s top brass to visit the country last month. The Hurriyat delegation that visited Pakistan from December 16-28, 2012, included its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat, Bilal Ghani Lone, Maulana Abbas Ansari, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, Musadiq Adil and Agha Syed Al-Hassan.

The APHC is an amalgam of various political, social and trade organisations based in the summer capital Srinagar favouring a ‘palatable’ resolution to the Kashmir dispute. Earlier, Hurriyat’s visit to Pakistan drew flak from various quarters. Many well-meaning political pundits dismissed their exercise as “futile”. Now the alliance finds itself in a tight-spot for a different reason.

There is an outrage in the Indian press with regards to the Hurriyat’s controversial decision to ‘meet’ Saeed and Salahuddin.

This media hype and rage startled some analysts like Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches international law at the Central University of Kashmir. “There is nothing new in such meetings. Hurriyat leaders have been meeting them in the past, too. Even the photographs of such meetings would appear in the press. It is a non-issue. It seems that the charged Indian media is now trying to deflect the attention of the masses from domestic discontent and shameful cases like the Delhi gang rape. Indian media is deviating attention from the real issues,” Dr. Showkat told Dawn.com from his home in the Kashmir Valley.

On the contrary, some leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP], the principal opposition in India, are demanding action against the Hurriyat leaders for meeting militant commanders. The BJP has accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance [UPA] federal government for “encouraging Hurriyat leaders to hobnob with anti-India elements abroad by allowing them to visit Pakistan.” The Hindu nationalist party leaders have held Congress responsible for encouraging “Hurriyat’s anti-India tirade, not only on Indian soil but also in Pakistan”.

But Dr. Showkat terms such a statement from the BJP as “sheer hypocrisy”. “These are clear double-standards from the BJP. People do remember very well how the then Indian External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh [senior leader of the BJP], had accompanied three top guerrilla commanders — Moulana Masood Azhar, Sheikh Omar and Mushtaq Zargar — for their release in exchange for hijacked passengers of an Indian Airlines flight in 1999,” he said. The episode is remembered as the Kandahar hijacking.

Meanwhile, Congress party spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit has also lambasted the Hurriyat delegation for ‘meeting’ the two radical S’s: Saeed and Salahuddin, in Lahore and Islamabad. “People going to Pakistan is not a problem with us but if the groups from here [India] go and breach trust and meet the agencies of people in Pakistan who are particularly anti-Indian, that needs to be stopped,” Dikshit told reporters.

Irrespective of the media excitement and mystery surrounding the controversial meeting with Saeed and Salahuddin, the Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq should actually clear the air for the sake of its own credibility amongst the people in Kashmir, India and Pakistan. Hurriyat’s silence could add to the confusion, invite volley of questions from various quarters, and possibly allow some to cast doubts over the amalgam’s standing too.

The writer is a professional journalist with international experience. He has worked as the Editor at Deutsche Welle in Bonn, Germany. Previously, he has also contributed features to the BBC website. Send your feedback at: gowhargeelani@gmail.com


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Comments (22) Closed




Raj
Jan 17, 2013 03:50pm
Hurriat leaders who met Hafeez Syed should be tried for treason in India.
Madan
Jan 16, 2013 07:03pm
Hurriyat,an amalgam of Indian muslims should clarify its position vis-a vis its meeting with two enemies of its motherland and the world.
rocktuff
Jan 17, 2013 11:50am
wat would a beard do? These all are results of identity crises.
Aqil Siddiqi
Jan 18, 2013 01:55am
Hello, I agree with you. Not only these good for nothing extremist has created chaos all over the world, they will also be responsible for Pakistan's eventual downfall.
Aqil Siddiqi
Jan 18, 2013 01:56am
We all know the issue, but no body has any guts to take any actions.
Noble Pakistani Muslim
Jan 18, 2013 01:09am
Prof Chenoy, the self styled friend of Hurriyat, shuould have been happy to become a friend of noble Pakistanis like Saeed and Salahuddin. By this statement he has shown his true colours that he does not like Pakistan or Muslims. After all he is a narrowminded and bigoted Hindu from India, what can the global fraternity of muslims expect from such fanatics?
murali
Jan 17, 2013 02:58am
Indian democracy has gone too far.
Stranger
Jan 17, 2013 01:13pm
I dread to think what will happen further if what the 'leaders' are saying is true.
trushar
Jan 17, 2013 02:12am
Nothing New About this story.... :)
Sandip
Jan 16, 2013 11:36pm
Wondering what is Huriatt trying to achieve by meeting people in Pakistan? Trying to get there support? That is only required if they dont have support locally. From my perspective the ground level movement has failed with all this violence and this guys are now without power. So they are trying to exert some power somehow and most probably by violence. Story of any muslim leader in the world.
shirin
Jan 16, 2013 11:23pm
is there a reason why these men can"t trim their beard? Islam required men to wear a beard, but also requires men to be well groomed. There really is no reason to look like this.
hindi
Jan 16, 2013 10:40pm
These lines have me somewhat perplexed. "The Hindu nationalist party leaders have held Congress responsible for encouraging
nam
Jan 17, 2013 06:28pm
Uday, in Pakistan, these days no body care about anything than Qadri sahib.
Hindoostani
Jan 17, 2013 06:09pm
Leave aside for what ever reason Pakistan was created and Pakistan is a failed state, on the other hand India is a shining democracy, better in politics, economics, military etc. but with all these positive aspects justice is still hanging and most probably won't be provided like in Pakistan, to a girl raped and murdered in the shining capital called Delhi.
dhk
Jan 17, 2013 05:46pm
that is exactly how i felt too. stretching similarities past belief to make a point.
hello
Jan 17, 2013 08:03am
It is a scientific fact that in a country when the population of Muslims exceeds a certain threshold value the chaos develops. All the Muslim majority countries and unfortunately parts of india muslim dominated, are the live laboratories affirming this scientific fact. This gentleman lived seven years in Canada and no body even knew who he was. As soon as he landed in Pakistan, where the threshold value is far exceeding the required minimum for fasaad, he was able to accomplish his task. Good luck to Pakistanis. Your country was not created for the welfare of Muslims, it was created to accommodate the egoistic ambition of Mr. Jinnah which set the precedence for future politicians. Your politicians need Pakistan to fill their pockets with corruption and your military needs Pakistan to ensure their privileges. Politicians in India are no better than your politicians but fortunately military and other institutions are not as degraded as yours. If you want to redeem yourself, ban all your madarsas, stop misinterpreating Quran and get rid of sharia. In short wake up and smell the coffee.Jinnah
yahya Khan
Jan 17, 2013 03:20pm
Be proud of the legacy of Mr.Nehru who lied at UN that the Kashmiries would be given the right to self determination. The Kashmiries struggled for about 50 years to get freedom being promised to them but of no avail. They were compelled to start armed struggle for getting freedom which is the universal right of every community. Now why this fray? The Indians have left no room for the Kashmiries to breathe. The Kashmiri women have been rapped, there youth buried in unknown graveyards and their souls hurt in every possible manner. As far as declaring Hafiz Saeed as international terrorist by the Americans is not strange. Today, the world peace is in turbulence due to the unjust policies of this country. On one hand the crimes of Israel are ignored and strongly backed at every forum by the Americans against the Palestinians while on the other hand Hafiz Saeed is declared international terrorisr without sufficient proof for doing so just to please the Indians. This is understandable as the Muslims are the common target for both the Americans and Indians. But one thing should be remembered that unjust actions do not result in lasting peace and stability for the powerful too.
Jagdish
Jan 16, 2013 08:57pm
Throw all these separatists out of kashmir.
uday
Jan 17, 2013 06:38am
Does nobody care about this issue in pak or is it that this forum is tightly monitored ?
Rahmat
Jan 16, 2013 08:14pm
Hurriat is not an independent outfit. Let us get that straight. Their remote control lies elsewhere. Their meetings should come as no surprise since they can hardly disobey their pay masters. Tragedy of Kashmir is dangerous mix of politics and religious exploitation. As long as religion is used as a tool to indoctrinate, intimidate and intoxicate, Kashmiris will continue to pay the price.
Rashid Sultan
Jan 16, 2013 07:48pm
The real question is - who bank rolls these disparate (doves to hawks to terrorists and murderers spuging hatred and venom) self serving people?
sunil
Jan 16, 2013 07:45pm
why dont these hurriyat leaders permanently shift to pakistan