Dialogue and the APHC
Iqbal Manhas, columnist for the weekly Chattan (19 October 2003) commented on the statement of Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on his visit to Delhi. Mufti reiterated that Centre should talk to separatists for a lasting solution to Kashmir problem. Soon after his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister, L K Advani, Mufti told media persons that, “the Union Government should not only reinforce the dialogue process but the Prime Minister needs to appoint one of his close associates as interlocutor so that people of the Valley, who have been pleading for a dialogue since long could participate in it. It is believed that Mufti’s proposal this time is intended to replace NN Vohra and Co. paving way for a close aide of Prime Minister to move ahead with the dialogue process." Manhas continued, "It is believed that prominent journalist, R K Mishra, would be the new face in the dialogue process, however, there are no visible signs of Vajpayee’s approval to Mufti’s proposal yet."
Though the Kashmir issue has been in the limelight and both India and Pakistan are very vocal about its resolution, a practical approach towards it is lacking badly especially on Delhi’s part, commented the daily Aftab in its editorial (22 October 2003. "Even, right now, there seem to be a bleak possibility of a successful dialogue because of many reasons, perhaps, a major reason being the forthcoming elections in five states of the country. It is believed that the outcome of these elections is bound to have an impact on the general elections in the India.” It continued "presently, there may not be a dialogue between the two countries. Undoubtedly, in Pakistan there is no such problem as President Musharraf has maintained a good state of affairs. Military law in this country is an institution more strong and influential than political leaders. So, unlike India, there seem to be no apparent impediment preventing Pakistan from a dialogue on Kashmir." But in India, the ruling BJP and its allies have a great challenge ahead obviously from opposition parties like the Congress and the like. It is perhaps the major reason that dialogue between the two countries is not shaping up and it is likely that it may suffer further delay until drastic change on the ground takes place, concluded the editorial.
In its editorial "Hurriyat in dilemma" the bilingual Alsafa (26 October 2003) pondered over the difficulties the Hurriyat Conference (Ansari group) was facing while preparing the ground for a dialogue with the newly nominated Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani "The talks offer by the Union Government has put the APHC (Ansari group) in trouble. Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the newly formed faction (rejectionists) wasted no time in terming this “offer” as a futile exercise, simply on the basis that these are to be held under the Indian constitution. All the constituents of the conglomerate have maintained that talks are not acceptable under the constitution of India. On the other hand, militant outfits too termed the initiative as unrealistic and unyielding. At this point of time, though the (Ansari group) is involved in homework trying to rope in militant outfits other than its own rebel group but there are no signs of any success as yet. Analysts believe, this unexpected move by Delhi seems to be an act under international pressure". Summing up, it said "While India was preparing the ground for the restoration of air links, transport and diplomatic ties, at the same time, it has extended an invitation to the "Ansari group" which Pakistan obviously does not support much."
Prof. G M Bhat in the Chattan (31October 2003) in a write-up commented on the Hurriyat’s approach vis-ÃƒÂ -vis “talks offer” by the Union Government. "There are indications that the Hurriyat is facing some difficulty in taking a comprehensive and final decision. After a meeting in Srinagar, Professor Bhat said that APHC will take time to take a final decision. Reliable sources said that Mualvi Abbas Ansari, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Fazl-Haq Qureshi, a three member panel is entrusted to talk to the JKLF, Jamat-e-Islami, People’s League, Shabir Shah, Azam Inqulabi and many other political groups." It has to be mentioned that Geelani has termed the offer as a futile exercise.
In its editorial the daily Uqab (16 October 2003) observed that the fidayeen attacks these days do not inflict as much casualties on the security forces as they used to. "In the beginning, fidayeens even stormed Badamibagh cantonment (the Valley’s highest security zone) but now troops have become much more conscious and adapted new strategies to foil the fidayeen attacks. Security is intensified especially around high-profile targets.” It continued "Given that the fidayeens do not care for their lives in any circumstances, if they are being prevented from attacking high profile targets, it is a big achievement in itself". Referring to the recent suicide attack at the Chief Minister’s residence, it read "The attackers could not make it to the Banquet Hall and entered the nearby Alijan shopping complex, creating panic all around. Over the years, people are used to such kind of attacks and do not give much importance to these. Obviously, for them, these incidents have become part of their day-to-day life." The present attack came at a time when the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) conference is going on in Malaysia and might be intended to draw the attention of the conference towards the Kashmir issue. But the international community condemns violence in all its manifestations and this attack could further jeopardize the Kashmir issue, summed up the editorial.