PUTTING KASHMIR’S HOUSE IN ORDER!
As we all know, the ongoing struggle for the ‘right to self determination’ in Kashmir has two distinct strategies. While the Hurriyat (G) Chairman SAS Geelani has declared that, “We, (the) Hurriyat Conference, favour peaceful struggle and we will continue to fight peacefully,” the Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Sallaudin is of the firm opinion that, “The deciding front which will compel India’s 750,000 army to quit our motherland is the Jihadi front.” Luckily, despite the wide divergence in their approach, both camps seem to be in mutual agreement and supportive of each other’s ideological philosophy. While Geelani has accepted that “We (the Hurriyat) never denied or ignored the role of gun in our struggle,” Syed Sallaudin has reciprocated by stating, “None can deny the importance and usefulness of a state- wide political movement under the patronage of a united and recognised leadership.”
However, despite this ‘in-principle’ respect for each other’s viewpoint and public show of mutual solidarity, from the statements emerging from both the camps, it is apparent that each seems to be skeptical about the effectiveness of the other’s strategy for achieving the goal of ‘the right to self determination.’ Thus, a question arises- is this display of bonhomie genuine or is it merely a charade to impress the international community and placate the domestic public by putting up the façade of a ‘united front’? A few core issues on which serious differences and even contradictions exist in the viewpoints expressed by both the Hurriyat and the Hizbul Mujahideen and are causing confusion in the minds of many are:
On the ‘Armed’ and ‘Peaceful’ Struggle
• The Hurriyat (G) Chairman has stated that, “The armed struggle won’t serve its purpose unless and until it is well-coordinated. It needs support of a country, which could provide supply of weapons, resources and training camps, which we don’t have…It, also needs ideologically perfect youth. It needs strategy. The militancy in Kashmir lacks these things. Since the eruption of armed movement, the militants couldn’t focus on these things.”
• The Hizb Chief, on the other hand stoutly defends the ‘armed struggle’ and has this to say about the Hurriyat’s outlook – “With great humility, I request the Hurriyat leadership and other separatist leaders to stop repeating the term ‘peaceful struggle’ needlessly. They know history better than me and I would want to know which forcible control ended by a mere peaceful struggle.”
On Hurriyat Unity
• The Hurriyat (G) Chairman’s view that “Every separatist entity is making its efforts on its level and people should understand that unification is not necessary to get Kashmir issue resolved,” is based on a pragmatic assessment of the prevailing situation and personalities involved. Everyone knows how hard he tried to forge unity, but finally had to accept dissension just for the sake of taking the movement ahead and not eroding the democratic character of the conglomerate.
• However, the Hizb supremo instead of appreciating this has stated, “There have been differences in approach of pro-freedom leaders on some issues and a consistent policy from here can end them.” Going a step further, he cites the United Jihad Council (UJC) example by saying that the “UJC is an umbrella of different organization and unity was possible only when its constituents did not care for their petty interests.” The Hizb supremo may have a point, but then he needs to understand that unlike the UJC, whose members share a common strategy of achieving their goals through the singular tool of violence, the Hurriyat (G) Chairman is dealing with an intellectual lot seeking various inclusive ways to resolve the problem through persuasive means. And by suggesting that disunity is due to ‘petty interests’, he is making a very serious allegation against the venerable patriarch and many other dedicated separatist leaders, who have never let ‘petty interests’ jeopardise the ongoing movement.
On Hurriyat Activities
• The Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Sallaudin appears to be dismissive of the Hurriyat activities as he is clear in his mind that, “Forces concentration doesn’t end merely through political struggle, conferences or seminars.” More recently, he has criticised the Hurriyat leadership in Kashmir for failing to “capitalise” on the hanging of Afzal Guru and went on to say that, “They even missed the opportunity following the recent killings (of two youth in Bandipora by Army). It is absurd that they lack strategy. Conferences, seminars, strikes and statements are not going to deliver goods.”
• Everyone knows that in the aftermath of both the Afzal Guru execution and the Sumbal, Bandipora killings, the Hurriyat did all they could do as an organisation committed to peaceful means of protest and it goes to the credit of this conglomerate that their efforts attracted international attention and widespread sympathy. So, what else does the Hizb chief expect from them? If he wanted that the protests should have been prolonged or more violent, then wouldn’t it have caused greater suffering to the people and increased the danger of innocent protesters losing their lives and limbs? While the Hizb may have no qualms about causing civilian casualties while attacking security forces in crowded places, how can it expect the collective conscience of the Hurriyat leadership to expose innocents to danger?
On Killings of Kashmiris
• The stand of the Hurriyat (G) Chairman on this sensitive issue remains unambiguous and reflects the highest respect for international conventions, religious tenets and humanitarian considerations. His observation that, “You cannot murder a person for his political affiliations. Islam doesn’t allow it- we admit that many of them (Kashmiris) work as spies for police and other agencies, but murdering them is totally unjustified (and) we condemn these killings,” is profound and deserves appreciation for its candour.
• Killing of Kashmiris not engaged in direct combat with security forces by militant groups remains a big blot on the ongoing struggle in Kashmir as it gives the movement a semblance of ‘terrorism’. So, when the Hurriyat (G) Chairman says that, “The killing of innocent and un-armed civilians doesn’t serve or benefit our cause,” he is truthfully revealing not only the futility of civilian killings by militants, but also highlighting the damage this is causing to the Kashmir movement.
• The Hizb supremo on the other hand does not seem to be unduly worried about how the ‘armed struggle” is perceived by the international community and while addressing a public gathering in Rawalpindi last year, Syed Sallaudin had proudly proclaimed, “We are fighting in Kashmir. It doesn’t matter to us if we are labeled terrorists.” More recently, he has been more explicit by making it clear that “We know who our foes are and where from anti-movement policemen get directions. It’s disheartening to see Mujahideen targeting our own Kashmiri policemen but we no option other than this.”
• And so, while the Hurriyat (G) Chairman considers killing of civilians, including those who “work as spies for police and other agencies,” as “totally unjustified,” for the Hizb supremo, such killings are merely “disheartening,” but justified and legitimate as he says that “we no option other than this.”
Coming back to the issue of divergent ideologies, the fissures between the Hurriyat and Hizb due to these are more than evident. The Hurriyat (G) Chairman is diplomatic and his guarded reply is, “See, we have time and again said that their (militants) and our strategy are completely separate. We don’t interfere in their way of fighting neither do militants seek any advice from us. Whatever they think is their own viewpoint. They are on their path and we will be on our (peaceful) path.” The Hizb supremo too has a similar piece of advice for the separatist leadership- “The political leadership has been fighting on political and diplomatic fronts, however, they should not dissuade youth from the armed struggle. They should leave the armed struggle to the youth and hold their fort on political front,” he says.
In its present ‘hybrid’ state with a sprinkling of both ‘peaceful struggle’ and ‘armed resistance’, the movement for ‘right to self determination’ cannot be expected to receive the recognition it deserves from the international community. So, the time has come when the Hurriyat and the Hizb have to cast away their ‘Laissez Faire’ attitude and decide on what definite character the movement for ‘right to self determination’ must take. If they decide to use the international community as the ‘weapon’ then the Kashmir struggle will have to acquire the character of a truly ‘peaceful movement’. However, if they don’t have faith in the commitment or capability of the international community to resolve Kashmir, then this movement has to graduate into an ‘armed struggle’.
However, for the ‘armed struggle’ option to succeed, the Indian army will have to be militarily defeated and to achieve this, there will be requirement of not only enlisting the services of an exceptionally large number of ‘fighters’ but also, (to quote SAS Geelani) get the “support of a country, which could provide supply of weapons, resources and training camps….” However, since no country has ever supported the idea of a military solution to resolve the Kashmir issue, it would be too naïve to expect any international aid for waging an ‘armed struggle’. Therefore, other means to build up and bring the military might to a level that can drive out the Indian army from Kashmir need to be explored.
Unfortunately, there is only one option and that is to ‘discard’ the ideological character of the ongoing struggle for the ‘right to self determination’ and after ‘re-packaging’ it as ‘jihad’, throw open the doors of Kashmir to ‘mujahideens’ from all over the world, so that a formidable ‘Lashkar’ can be created. This model has worked well in Afghanistan and could work in Kashmir too. But, if we opt for this option, then, like the citizens of Afghanistan, we too will have to be prepared to endure a very long period of immense hardships and privations, till Kashmir is finally ‘liberated’ by our ‘mujahideen’ brethren. Are we ready?
PUTTING KASHMIR’S HOUSE IN ORDER!