Mirwaiz the Abu Mazen of Kashmir

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On June 3, 2005 a moderate faction of the All Hurriyat Party Congress (AHPC) visited Pakistan on a two week visit. This faction of AHPC was led by Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and also included other leaders most notable amongst them were Moulvi Abbas Ansari, Abdul Ghani Butt, Yasin Malik and Bilal Ghani Lone. The visit was jointly facilitated by India and Pakistan to push ahead with America’s Kashmir road map. To make the visit successful, Pakistan and India collaborated to prevent certain Kashmiri politician travelling to Pakistan. Leaders like Geelani and Shabir Ahmad Shah of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) were denied travelled documents. Pakistan even took the unprecedented step of barring Geelani from attending an OIC meeting held on June 29, 2005 at Sana in Yemen. During Mirwaiz’s visit a number of important issues were discussed with the Pakistani government. This is summarised as follows:

Abandonment of the UNSC resolution to solve the Kashmir dispute

On June 9, 2005, a day after a meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf, the visiting APHC delegation said that the United Nations had failed to implement its resolutions on Kashmir and it was time to explore new options for the settlement of core issue. Mirwaiz said, “UN has failed to implement its own resolutions on Kashmir so it is time to explore new options on the core issue… If we still confine ourselves to the UN resolutions, then we will have to sacrifice the lives of 100,000 more Kashmiris.” Mirwaiz said that he reached this logical conclusion by examining the track record of the UN with regards to implementing its decisions. "We have the examples of Palestine and many other issues where the UN has failed to get implemented its resolutions," he said. Mirwaiz also justified his stance by citing that APHC manifesto gave him the leverage to explore alternatives along with the implementation of UN resolutions. Mirwaiz’s radical departure from UN resolutions concurs with Musharraf’s view on the subject. Musharraf first floated the idea of moving away from UN resolutions on November 18, 2003 when he said, "We are for the United Nations Security Council resolution, whatever that stands for. However, now we have left that aside… We keep saying that if we want to resolve this issue both sides need to talk with each other with flexibility… coming beyond stated positions… coming and meeting half way somewhere.”

At last, America with Pakistani and Indian help has succeeded in splitting the Kashmiri political leadership by encouraging a moderate faction headed by Mirwaiz to take centre stage in the dispute. Mirwaiz’s faction has opted to forego UN resolutions in favour for solving the longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan. This stance is in unison with the current American position on Kashmir. On July 20, 2001, the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, Christina Rocca, said "Our position now is that the issue of Kashmir should be resolved between India and Pakistan, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.” Previously, America only supported UN resolutions for settling the Kashmir dispute. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Robin Raphael, declared in October 1993, "We (USA) do not recognise the legal validity of Kashmir’s accession as meaning that Kashmir is for ever an integral part of India." But changed her stance after the pro-American BJP ascended to power.

However, with the pro-British Congress party taking power in 2004 it was widely expected for America and Pakistan to reverse their positions. But with Musharraf’s power waning at home and America eager to win greater influence over India, America has decided to proceed ahead with solving the Kashmir dispute.

The continuation of the peace process has been welcomed by the British. The British foreign office praised Mirwaiz’s visit to Pakistan. On June 4, 2005 a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesman said that the visit to Pakistan by APHC leaders was a result of the ongoing peace process between two South Asian neighbours.

The Congress Party under the auspices of Britain is keen to exploit America’s weakness in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to take full advantage of US advances towards India. By doing so, India is looking to achieve a favourable outcome in the Kashmir dispute as well as the wider process of normalisation between India and Pakistan.

Promotion of moderate Kashmiris in the dispute

Speaking after the meeting with general Musharraf, Mirwaiz urged Pakistan and India to formulate a strategy to discuss the Kashmir issue within a certain timeframe and to ensure representation of Kashmiris in the peace process. He said that the triangular talks initiated with the historic visit of APHC to Azad Kashmir and Pakistan is the best approach in the current circumstances and President Musharraf welcomed it. He added that the triangular talks could be converted to the tripartite talks later. He said, “The APHC visit to Pakistan is the first step towards the Kashmiris’ inclusion in the peace process.”

In fact the whole visit has been orchestrated to give legitimacy to Mirwaiz’s faction of the AHPC and promote him to be the true leader of the Kashmiri people. On June 16, 2005 Mirwaiz revealed the true purpose of his visit to Pakistan. He said, “We want to further strengthen the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan and our visit across the border was part of that process.” On his return from Pakistan, Mirwaiz called for a ceasefire between Kashmiri resistance fighters and the Indian army. He also announced that he was ready to hold talks with India. On June 26, 2005 he said, “We have held meaningful talks with Pakistan. We are ready to reopen talks with New Delhi. We have already conveyed to New Delhi through informal channels that we are ready to take the peace process forward.” Pakistan eager to extend Mirwaiz’s credibility in the wider Muslim world, arranged for him to attend the OIC summit in Sana

Mirwaiz taking his cue from Pakistan and India is to begin a mass contact campaign in Kashmir to boost his credentials amongst the people. Mirwaiz’s faction is planning a series of public rallies to get their message across to the public. The first is to be held in Handwara on July 7, 2005.

So from these statements and the from the actions of Pakistan and India, it is clear that they have chosen Mirwaiz and his faction to play a prominent role in betraying the long held aspirations of Kashmiri people that is to liberate themselves from Indian occupation.

The present status quo is unacceptable

Mirwaiz said that the APHC leaders and President Musharraf agreed on the basic points that ‘status quo’ is unacceptable to both Pakistan and Kashmiris and the LoC could not be transformed into a permanent border. He added that these two points are our bottom line and beyond that each and everything thing could be discussed. He said, “We are fully satisfied that Pakistan is moving towards the solution of the Kashmir dispute in a realistic, sagacious and positive manner.” On October 10, 2005 at The ‘Symposium on Kashmir: looking towards the future’ which was organized by the publishers of the Dawn Group of newspapers in collaboration with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Pakistan Peace Coalition and the Islamabad Council for World Affairs. Mirwaiz said, “We desire to be citizens of the United States of Kashmir and we desire India and Pakistan to give a free hand to the Kashmiri leadership to come up with new proposals.” On his visit to Australia last month Musharraf was quoted by the local media as saying `autonomous Kashmir’ was his `earnest desire’ if some consensus could be developed on it. He also said that complete independence for Kashmir would not be acceptable to India or Pakistan. Added to this Manmohan Singh has also said that the redrawing of borders will not be acceptable to India.

What is meant by all of these statements is that an independent Kashmiri state is out of the question. So is the option of making the LoC the permanent border as it has been rejected by all three parties. So the solution that appears to be taking shape is the one that has been advocated by Musharraf and which incidentally has been drafted by the US sponsored Kashmir study group. This proposal states:

“(1). Three entities –” Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh –” would be established in the portion of the pre-1947 state now administered by India. These three self-governing entities would each take part in a body that would coordinate issues of interest to all of them, such as internal trade and transportation.

(2). Two entities –” Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas –” would be established on the side now administered by Pakistan. Like the entities on the Indian side, they would each be represented in a coordinating body that would consider issues in which they both had an interest.

(3). An All-Kashmir body would be set up to coordinate areas of broader interest such as regional trade, tourism, environment, and water resources. This body would include representatives from each of the five entities as well as from India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan would be responsible for the defence of the entities and the entities would maintain police forces to maintain internal law and order. India and Pakistan would be expected to work out financial arrangements for the entities. The borders of the entities with India and Pakistan would remain open for the free transit of people, goods, and services in accordance with arrangements to be worked out between India, Pakistan and the entities. While the present Line of Control would remain in place until such time as both India and Pakistan decided to alter it in their mutual interest, both India and Pakistan would demilitarize the area included in the entities. Neither India nor Pakistan could place troops on the other side of the Line of Control without the permission of the other state.”

The difference between this and earlier versions of the proposal is that the division of Kashmir is based on geography and not religion. Furthermore, the LoC is to be replaced by a ‘soft border’ which appeals to the Indian psyche as it reassurances them that Pakistan a run away province of India will eventually be re-integrated with the mother land. At the moment this forms the basis of the Kashmir road map which is being followed by all parties.

India’s response to these proposals has been lukewarm. The fact that India has collaborated with Pakistan to create a moderate faction of the AHPC is enough to suggest that India’s political establishment is taking a serious look at the proposal. Nonetheless Singh has already started to make positive overtures and has advocated a road map to defuse the tension between the two countries over Siachen. While visiting the highest glacier in Kashmir last month, Singh said that Siachen should become a "peace mountain" between India and Pakistan.

Conclusion

With the emergence of Mirwaiz, the Kashmir dispute in many ways now resembles the Middle East peace process. Like Abu Mazen, Mirwaiz has to deal with the resistance fighters as well as hardliners who oppose him tooth and nail. Like Abu Mazen, Mirwaiz will also have to reach out to those who oppose him in a bid to boost his legitimacy in the upcoming Kashmiri elections.

Like the Palestinian people before them, the Kashmiri people find themselves betrayed by Pakistan and other rulers of the Muslim world. Today, these rulers stand firmly on the side of India and against the Kashmiris. Like the Palestinians, the Kashmiri Muslims will now have to fight the Indian occupation on their own.

As for the Pakistani people they will soon be asking of Musharraf that after having spent 58 years spilling blood and sending their sons to liberate Kashmir all they have to show for is a soft border with India.

The issue of Kashmir cannot be solved by depending on solutions advocated by western powers. In all cases, western powers created such problems and then proceeded to use the intellectual, political and material assets of Muslims to achieve their goals and those of their allies like India and Israel. Only the Khilafah can use these assets to liberate occupied land and prevent western powers from interfering in the affairs of the Muslim world.

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