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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

Is Mufti talking THE language of the Hurriyat?

By J.N. Raina - Syndicate Features

Something is troubling Mufti Mohammad Sayed. After providing a ‘healing touch’ therapy to Kashmiri terrorists and their families during his tenure as Chief Minister, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader has become gung-ho about self rule for Jammu and Kashmir.

By clamouring for self rule idea, borrowed from Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, the Mufti has stirred up a hornet’s nest; taking up cudgels with National Conference supremo Farooq Abdullah and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who consider his demand an irrelevant issue. Sayed is obsessed with the self rule idea because of the influence of his daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, who is ideologically close to pro-Pakistani elements.

It may be recalled that Pak President General Musharraf first talked about self rule and demilitarization concepts in his address to the UN General Assembly last year. By a strange coincidence, Sayed led a non-official Indian delegation to the General Assembly session this year. It is intriguing how the Prime Minister has proposed Mufti’s name for the task, while his own government has rejected Musharraf’s suggestions on self rule and demilitarization. Self rule inter alia means ‘khudmukhtari’ (independence). These ideas were in fact floated by a non-resident Kashmiri group of pro-Pakistani lobbyists in New York, before it was picked up by Musharraf.

Mufti Sayed and his daughter have been repeatedly claiming that "self rule provides a workable solution to all parties (to the dispute)." It is mind boggling that Mufti, who has been advocating "one country, two systems," should be asked to deliberate on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly and reopen the settled issue. The Mufti, who was in a responsible position at the Centre, has suggested New Delhi to take ‘bold decisions’ and move forward towards ‘permanent peace’, because according to him, “Kashmir’s accession with India was on a different footing”.

PDP is engaged in drafting a blueprint about self rule—or it might have been finalized by now—which will be presented at UN. This job has been entrusted to the party’s political affairs committee. Former Deputy Chief Minister in Azad’s cabinet, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, a top constitutional expert, is a member of the committee.

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had accompanied India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the UN General Assembly, after partition, to brief the international community about the Kashmir situation, in the wake of Pakistan-sponsored tribal invasion. The tribal attack had reached its crescendo on October 27, 1947, when Maharaja Hari Singh’s Army was mauled and Muslim soldiers deserted their posts to join the Pakistan Army. The raiders had pounded the commercial township of Baramulla, and resorted to massacre, arson and rape. Of a population of 40,000 in the town, only 3000 had remained.

Hari Singh’s decision to accede to India (following the attack) had the support of the most "representative and popular party of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference," says Alastair Lamb, in his book "Incomplete Partition."

“While officially the Sheikh was arguing in support of the Indian position that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was India’s by every right, privately he appears to have been putting a very different case”, says Lamb. On January 28, 1948, as a member of the Indian Diplomatic team, the Sheikh called on the US Representative Ambassador Warren R Austin, to discuss about Kashmir. Austin later concluded thus: "….. principle purpose of Abdullah’s visit was to make clear to the U S that there is a third alternative, namely independence. He seemed overtly anxious to get this point across…."

But Austin made it clear to him that independence was not an option on offer. The only question before the Security Council was whether Kashmir should go to India or Pakistan. "Even Pakistan had declined this line of reasoning, according to Austin. The leadership in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) had given up this idea about independence. Sheikh Abdullah had no following in PoK. Perhaps that is the main reason why he wanted Nehru to call ceasefire."

But while back home, Sheikh Abdullah, on February 28, 1948, called on then Under Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations Patrick Gordon Walker and put forth his proposal as: "The solution therefore was that Kashmir should have its autonomy, jointly guaranteed by India and Pakistan…."

But the British Government (as well as the U S) was not ‘enamoured’ of the independence option for at least four reasons, says Lamb. These include:

First: in general, it disliked the idea of further subdivisions of sovereignty in South Asia. The partition has been trauma enough.

Second: It seemed that the State of Jammu and Kashmir occupied a strategic position on the edge of the Central Asia and the world of both the Soviet Union and what was then an increasingly unstable China.

Third : It is believed that the creation of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir under what would inevitably be a Muslim majority government, would surely lead to a further flood of refugees ( in this case Hindus ) and another outbreak of communal killings, such as had so shocked the world opinion immediately after partition and the transfer of power.

The British believed that the birth of a new fully independent state in the subcontinent would create a most ‘undesirable precedent’ which they would prefer to avoid. It is astounding that Sayed, who was a harsh critic of Sheikh Abdullah, for the latter’s enchantment for ‘independent’ Kashmir, should adopt the same path of narrow-mindedness.

On the contrary, Dr Farooq Abdullah is constant in his approach and stands for the state’s autonomy within the parameters of the Indian Constitution. He has been asserting: "I do not accept that part of Kashmir (PoK) to be a part of this Kashmir (J and K)…. Tell them (Pakistan) your Kashmir is yours, ours is ours." He repeated these observations while addressing the second Roundtable Conference in Srinagar on May 24.

Mufti Sayed is speaking the language of the Hurriyat. He is in agreement with Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who favours ‘self rule’ to resolve Kashmir issue, but ‘only after demilitarization’. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of the moderate Hurriyat holds the view that "demilitarization and self-governance (which means that independence and autonomy, has to be outside the Constitution of both countries), is the answer for solving the problem."

Says chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad with an element of conviction, "Those who say Kashmir should be an independent country, are cheating people." Obliquely hitting out at Sheikh and Mufti, he says Kashmiris have been ‘misled’ in the past and continue to remain ‘misled’.

- Syndicate Features -

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