In its editorial, the daily Nidi-e-Mushraq (1 February) commented on Hurriyat-Centre dialogue: “It appears that Abbas Ansari after his meeting with Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy, L. K. Advani is feeling himself right on the top and rightly so. Obviously, it is not an easy job to talk to such political icons. All the constituents of Hurriyat extended full support to Ansari and now there are chances of this faction (Abbas group) visiting Pakistan. If it happens, Musharraf will come to know that India was sincere and allowed Hurriyat to visit Pakistan.” Referring to ordinary people, it said: “We pray to God for all success to Abbas in this noble mission but there are some people who are not happy with this development. Undeniably, it was just because of Abbas’s bold decision that Bhat was able to meet these two highly acknowledged leaders. Obviously, it was not his (Bhat’s) cup of tea. Maulana (a religious scholar) has the scope to go high in the skies but a Professor should know that his job is confined to delivering lectures inside a classroom. It is the question everybody wants the answer to”. Summing it up, it said, “Though people like the Maulana’s approach of answering even the blistering questions in a straightforward manner, they want him to reciprocate inflammatory questions properly.”
Dr. G M Bhat in the weekly Chattan (2-15 February) commented on Pakistan’s subtle policy vis-ÃƒÂ -vis the first round of talks between Hurriyat and Delhi. “Though Pakistan has been involved in a dialogue with India on different issues including Kashmir, its policy with regard to the Hurriyat-Delhi meeting was not clear. Even if Musharraf had openly endorsed the dialogue and Foreign Minister, Kasuri too expressed satisfaction on the dialogue, Information Minister, Shiekh Rashid’s discontentment was obvious. Rashid even condemned the dialogue process when it was going on.” It continued, “Analysts believe that Pakistan’s approach vis-ÃƒÂ -vis the H-C dialogue was ambiguous because of several reasons. It is under pressure from different sides. The international community, particularly the western media, portrays Pakistan as a center of terrorism. After Al-Qaida and Taliban, the current fight in Kashmir is being called Pakistan-backed. The recent nuclear leaks had also earned the country a bad name at international level”. Especially after 9/11, the international community regards dialogue as the only possible solution to all problems and wants all nations to strictly adhere to it. Pakistan has no room to condemn the Hurriyat-Delhi dialogue at least openly.
Elections and the Coalition Government
The Aftab (10 February) in its lead news reported, “It appears that the Hurriyat will launch a strong election boycott throughout the Valley. In this regard, leaders of the organization are meeting each other. Meanwhile, the BJP and the National Conference are enticing more and more people towards them.” It continued, “the Congress and the PDP appear to be less lively with regard to the elections ahead. It is believed that PDP would field Bakshi Nazir Ahmed in Srinager constituency, and in Baramulla, Congress is likely to nominate Gh. Rasool Kar. It appears that the National Conference would propose the names of its candidates soon after election schedule is announced. The Valley people seem unmoved on this occasion”
In its editorial, “Political Parties on Tenterhooks”, the bilingual Alsafa (8 February) commented on the different parties vying for seats in the forthcoming elections. “Like in other states, political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are back in business. NC, PDP, Congress, PDF, and other parties have set in motion their campaigns. According to reliable sources, Omar Abdullah, NC President will not participate in the elections. Omar has said that he would prefer to take the reins of the party, which is in bad shape, but analysts believe that Omar does not want to risk his standing by participating in elections. The forthcoming elections throw a challenge before National Conference (NC)”. It continued, “the coalition government too appears to be confronted with many problems. It has failed to provide good governance. The property transfer bill passed by this government has also earned it a bad name among the masses at large.”
Sajad Lone, chairman of the People’s Conference has put the Hurriyat in a fix. Umar Farooq’s calling the murderer of Ab Gani Lone a martyr, became a point of honor and subsequently led to Sajad’s separation from the Abbas group, reported the Alsafa (15 February). Fissures in Hurriyat Conference had deepened following Umar’s statement that Rafiq Ladri (Al-Umar commander) was a martyr. Umar participated in his funeral. Taking strong notice of Umar’s participation in Rafiq’s funeral, Sajad sought an explanation from the Hurriyat Chairman, Abbas as to how he (Umar) participated in the funeral of a murderer and called him a martyr. It continued, “In a detailed letter to the Chairman, Sajad said that Lone visited the US only after Umar asked him to do so. Later, Umar accepted that Rafiq Ladri was involved in his assassination. How was it that a murderer was called a martyr, asked Sajad.”