THE HURRIYAT- HIZBUL CONNECTION
THE HURRIYAT- HIZBUL CONNECTION
The Hurriyat has been for long accused by many of being a ‘front’ for the pro Pakistan militant group Hizbul Mujahideen. According to the detractors, once the Hizbul Mujahideen realised that by espousing the cause of armed rebellion and encouraging violence it was being treated not as an organisation of ‘freedom fighters’, but a group of pariahs by the international community, it sought to circumvent this diplomatic isolation. Consequently, the Hizb created the Hurriyat, through which its ‘cause’ could be diplomatically championed. The critics reinforce their ‘proof’ that these two identities are but the same by pointing out that initially both the Hurriyat and Hizb worked on a single point and pre-determined agenda- not for demanding the ‘right to self determination’ but for Kashmir be ‘freed’ from Indian ‘occupation’ and its ‘merger’ with Pakistan.
Even though these allegations may have had some substance, the same could never be proved due to lack of any visible signs of direct control over the Hurriyat by the Hizbul Mujahideen. Both these groups continued to express their independent viewpoints and follow their respective calling. While the Hizb has not made any changes in its pro- Pak leanings, the Hurriyat splintered into the ‘hard line’ and ‘moderate’ factions and gradually toned down its ‘merger with Pakistan’ rhetoric and accepted the third option of ‘azadi’. Though, critics attributed this shift in stance of the Hurriyat to the compulsions of public opinion, the fact that the Hizb never objected to the Hurriyat’s viewpoint in this regards, amply demonstrated that though both groups were pursuing a common goal, they were committed to achieving the same independently through their divergent philosophies.
Though the Hizb did at times comment on the Hurriyat, they only made observations and never indulged in issuing assertive directions. For example, during the assembly elections in 2002, when there was a rumour that some constituent parties within the Hurriyat had said that they would not "resist" the electoral process, the Hizb merely said that "if the Hurriyat failed to do so (resist the electoral process) and showed reluctance under pressure, they would lose the position of being the political representatives of the Kashmiris.'' A decade later, the roles of the Hurriyat and the Hizb were reversed. While the Hurriyat (G) directed that the people to boycott the Panchayat elections, the Hizbul Mujahideen supremo on the other hand stated that, “We didn’t call for boycott of Panchayat polls as these are for local self arrangements and are different from assembly elections.” And so, those who accused the Hurriyat of being a Hizb in disguise had to eat the proverbial humble pie!
However, in the recent past, there has been conspicuous display of unbounded solidarity between the Hurriyat and the Hizb. During December last year, while asking the people not to be mute spectators to the atrocities and injustices being committed on them, the Hurriyat (G) Chairman SAS Geelani (for the first time perhaps), directly invoked religion to encourage the cult of violence when he stated that “We should resist as per our capabilities and those who pick up arms are better than others. They don’t need our certificate as Allah has given them certificate.” The Hizb supremo on his part has urged the people to convince and compel the Hurriyat leadership to come out with a common programme saying that, “We can only appeal to their conscience and divert their attention towards a unified voice with an eye on sacrifices that people have offered for the struggle.”
Both the Hurriyat and the Hizb have recently come out in the open, expressing anti-Pakistan feelings. The first salvo was fired by the UJC chief and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Sallaudin when he said that, "We are fighting Pakistan's war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan.” In what may seem to be a strange coincidence, Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani, too in an obvious mention to Pakistan declared that, “We are not going to accept any readymade solution thrust upon us from outside and will continue our struggle for our right to self-determination at all costs.”
Though both the Hizb and the Hurriyat have been conveying their unhappiness over Pakistan’s commitment towards the Kashmir cause in the past, the same has been through emotional appeals and expression of anguish, but never in the form of direct threats as issued now. There is no doubt that it is the new found bonhomie between India and Pakistan which has brought the Hurriyat and Hizb together. For any meaningful and enduring relations to develop between these two countries, it is essential that an atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust is first created. This is only possible if India and Pakistan were to decide and follow the Sino-Indian model of diplomatic engagement, where contentious issues or ‘irritants’ are temporarily put into the ‘back burner’ so that it the ‘baggage of the past’ does not become a ‘burden’ which vitiates the present environment.
Both the Hurriyat and the Hizb are well aware that should there be a thaw in Indo Pak relationship, then both these organisations run the risk of being rendered ‘irrelevant’. In fact, Syed Sallaudin’s statement that “Blood has not been shed for trade and culture” and Hurriyat (G) Chairman SAS Geelani’s terse observation that, “Kashmir issue is the main reason for the animosity and trust deficit between India and Pakistan. Unless there is a strong determination to address this issue, no dramatic headway should be expected from the talks between the two countries," underlines how sensitive the Hizb and Hurriyat are towards any rapprochement between India and Pakistan.
And it is this fear that has evoked such sharp criticism of Pakistan from them which though an emotional outburst could have had far reaching consequences. The direct admission that the UJC and more notably, the Hizb was fighting Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir by none other than the UJC supremo and Hizb chief Syed Sallaudin is yet another damning indictment of Pakistan’s dubious role in its war against terror. Luckily for Pakistan, this revelation that it was keeping ‘snakes in its backyard,’ has not been exploited and the credit for the same goes not to adroit handling of the situation by Pakistan, but thanks to the ineptness and mediocrity of Indian diplomacy. However, this should serve as a warning to the Hizb chief to be more discerning in future!
In a recent interview, the UJC supremo Syed Sallaudin has defined the symbiotic roles of the Hurriyat and Hizb in the ‘freedom struggle’ with great alacrity, emphasising that “militant activities will continue along with political movement and the two will spontaneously self adjust as per need and prevailing conditions.” So, those who had accused the Hurriyat of being a cleverly created ‘clone’ of the Hizb stand vindicated and this does not auger well for the conglomerate. Any association with a militant group will further erode the credibility of the Hurriyat as an organisation which without having secured public mandate nevertheless claims to be representing the true aspirations of the masses. The Hurriyat therefore needs to introspect seriously and only after due deliberation announce its future strategy and relationship with the Hizb. It may be prudent for the Hurriyat to ensure that any of its actions or announcements does not alienate the international community. It would really be unfortunate if the Hurriyat is rendered ‘irrelevant’ due to its insistence not to change with times!
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Tags: Hurriyat , Hizbul Mujahideen , Syed Ali Shah Geelani , Syed Sallaudin , United Jehad Council , India , Pakistan ,
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