If Hurriyat leaders are ‘evil’, why did Advani meet them in 2004?

Getting agitated about the separatists meeting the Pakistani high commissioner is indeed comical.


On February 22, 1994, both houses of Parliament unanimously passed a resolution emphasising that “Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the state under its occupation.”

If Hurriyat leaders are 'evil', why did Advani meet them in 2004Without a whisker of a doubt, this adopted parliamentary resolution establishes that Kashmir is a dispute between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear powers and arch-rivals, and neighbours, too.

This parliamentary resolution accentuates that “the one-third part of Kashmir administered by Pakistan since 1947 is also a part of India”.

If this is India’s officially stated position through Parliament, temple of democracy, why does New Delhi shy away from talking Kashmir with Pakistan? Why this knee-jerk reaction each time the word Kashmir is uttered? Why this insecurity?

Pakistan’s official position on Kashmir is that entire Jammu and Kashmir is its “jugular vein”.

It was independent India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who promised plebiscite to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in his historic speech at historic Lal Chowk and it was India which took the Kashmir case to the United Nations Security Council.

Why shy away from talking Kashmir?

India’s official position on Kashmir continues to remain dodgy, dubious and inconsistent. India first agrees in Pakistan-India joint statements that it is ready to all outstanding issues, including the issue of Kashmir, and then cancels foreign secretary-level talks on flimsy and unconvincing grounds like the Pakistani high commissioner meeting the Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi in August last year.

One does completely understand the logic behind cancellation of official engagement on grounds like the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001 or the Mumbai attacks of November 2008, but getting agitated about Hurriyat leaders meeting the Pakistani high commissioner or country’s national security adviser is indeed comical.

Didn’t then deputy Prime Minister LK Advani meet and welcome the Hurriyat delegation in New Delhi on January 22, 2004?

If the Hurriyat Conference and its leaders were “irrelevant”, why did the hawkish leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold talks with them, representing the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government? What was Advaniji discussing with the Hurriyat leaders in a two-and-a-half hour meeting: Weather? Astrology? Bollywood? Cricket?

If Advaniji can hold talks with the Hurriyat leaders why can’t the Pakistani high commissioner do the same?

As a matter of fact, the formal talks between New Delhi represented by then deputy prime minister and a faction of the pro-freedom All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by Shia cleric Maulvi Abbas Ansari, consolidated the feel-good factor that the government was fuelling prior to the 2004 parliamentary elections.

Advaniji held talks for the first time with the Hurriyat leaders against the backdrop of improved ties between India and Pakistan and enhanced people-to-people contact. It became possible primarily because of the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee’s statesmanship after he extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan. Talks with the Hurriyat were calculated to telegraph the message that Vajpayee’s NDA government had refused to get bogged down by historical baggage.

Does Prime Minister Narendra Modi want to draw inspiration from Vajpayee’s legacy or the hyperactive state of one television anchor?

India – a country which aspires to be seen as one of the world leaders and has ambitions of becoming a global economic player – can’t afford to let one hyperactive electronic media channel shape its foreign policy. It should not be held hostage to shouting battles inside television studios. It should not surrender before media frenzy. It should take bold and mature decisions, even if sometimes unpopular.

Let’s face a simple fact: Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his speech at the Aligarh Muslim University Union on March 10, 1941 claimed that “Pakistan has been there for centuries. It is there today, and it will remain till the end of the world. It was taken away from us.”

Pakistan as India’s neighbour is very much there. India can’t ignore its strategically important neighbour. There is no option other than sincere engagement and dialogue without preconditions.

On its part, Pakistan also has to realise that India is very much there. It can’t go away. Dialogue is the only way. Deadlock is in no one’s interest.

And both India and Pakistan can’t achieve permanent peace, prosperity, development if they remain in denial mode on Kashmir. Kashmir is the mighty elephant in the room. You see it. Gather courage to confess that it is there. Because by closing your eyes you are deceiving yourself, none else.

Talk Kashmir.

Solve Kashmir.

Live in peace.

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