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l August 2003 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 2, No 4 l

TABLE-TALK 

An interview with Hurriyat Chairman

M K Tayal


The All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is on the brink of a split and its newly-elected chairman, Maulana Abbas Ansari, finds himself in the spotlight, with the two-fold objective of saving his position and keeping his conglomerate in the limelight.

Though he has succeeded in keeping the APHC relevant by making its presence felt in New Delhi — meeting diplomats of nations that want to keep India in check by humouring the 27 party group — he sees the unity slowly slipping away.

While India is making concerted efforts to push Pakistan for talks, the APHC has been interfering, claiming to be a relevant force. Meanwhile, the APHC has also vehemently denied the government’s charge that it is receiving funds from Pakistan and is supporting militancy in the Valley.

When he earlier landed at the airport with former chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Ansari was pulled aside by Farooq. “Come. We don’t know what you will say,” Farooq said, in Kashmiri. “Let us do the talking,” he added.

We caught up with Ansari for an exclusive one-on-one where the APHC chairman blamed the media for most of the ills plaguing the Kashmir issue.

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Excerpts from the interview:

In the changing scenario, what role do you envisage the APHC playing?

We are favouring talks. Gone are the days of gun culture. The people of Kashmir want a peaceful solution. We should build on our friendship with Pakistan.

You have been meeting diplomats from many nations. Who all did you meet?

We met officials from the US Embassy, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and Pakistan.

What did you talk about?

Each nation recognises the importance of the region. The world knows that India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. God forbid something happens and nuclear weapons are used, it will be disastrous.

What will happen to south-east Asia? Keeping that in mind, the envoys we met with talked about resolving the Kashmir issue and we let them know our stand.

What is your stand?

We want peace and favour talks between India and Pakistan, and want to be a part of the process. You cannot leave the people of Kashmir out of the dialogue.

You had a discussion with the Kashmir Committee members at MP Ram Jethmalani’s residence. What did you discuss?

We not only met them, we also met intellectuals and important people. However, the common denominator is talks.

Don’t you think you are losing support of the parties? For instance, Syed Ali Shah Geelani plans to float a new party due to differences that have risen because of the People’s Conference fielding dummy candidates during last year’s elections.

Let him (Geelani) set up his party. We are not bothered. Those who go, we will call them too for the talks. When his party is formed, we will definitely call him.

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairperson (JKLF) Yasin Malik was in town when you were meeting diplomats and Kashmir Committee members. Why was he not included in the delegation you were heading?

Malik was in town for other reasons. He has several court cases and was busy attending to those. He did not have the time.

Not even in the evenings?

Why do you look at it in that way? We are not worried at all.

You are considered a moderate leader.

What is this moderate leader business? We are all for peace. Geelani and Malik left self-determination a long time ago. Malik is equated with Gandhian-peace. We are only talking of dialogue.

What do you want? To go with Pakistan or India?

(Irritated) You are making a mountain out of a mole-hill. I only want dialogue. You guys (media) are responsible for the Kashmir problem. To keep your shop running, you rake up unnecessary issues.

Have you given up the issue of self-determination?

(Angry) There are three parties. Pakistan, India and the 1.2 crore people of Kashmir. Talks cannot be held in a vacuum. Look at their history.

You are a Shia, a minority in the APHC. It is dominated by Sunni leaders. In Pakistan too, there seems to be a problem on that front.

I am first a Muslim, then a Shia. There is no domination in the APHC. You have nothing better to talk about.

By an EXCLUSIVE arrangement with MID DAY, Mumbai



Copyright © 2002-2003 Shyam Lal Watt Foundation

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