The reason given by New Delhi to call off talks with Pakistan — that High Commissioner Abdul Basit invited separatists for a customary consultation — has not only brought a divided and fatigued Hurriyat back into the limelight but provided them a fresh lease of political life.
Over the years, Indo-Pak talks, especially between top diplomats, have not created much buzz in the Valley. Even the recent visit of Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi went almost unnoticed. Thus it wasn’t the cancellation of the talks, but instead the reason given by the Centre which has become a political issue.
Some believe this decision has lent credence to the view of separatists, who see Indo-Pak talks as a futile exercise.
“I think Hurriyat is the winner and they have managed to earn some points from this round,” says Dr Sameer Ahmad, a scholar of political science. “India’s refusal to talk to Pakistan…will help Hurriyat, especially the moderates, re-build their image,” he says.
For Bilal Ahmad, a professor at Kashmir University, the meeting between separatists and the Pakistan high commissioner is an alibi for India to stay away from talks. “When India and Pakistan talk about dialogue, it means dialogue about Kashmir. So you can’t keep the people of Kashmir away from it…Pakistan has invited separatists because they acknowledge Kashmiris as a stakeholder. India, on the other hand, is not acknowledging Kashmiris which proves they are not sincere,” he says.
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“I feel happy,” says Independent legislator in state Assembly Engineer Rashid. “At least those forces who had hopes that India would resolve this issue through dialogue feel let down. India is not sincere and they have proved it”.
Rashid sees the cancellation of talks as Hurriyat’s victory. “I think New Delhi is afraid of Hurriyat. If they (Hurriyat) are nobody, why are they (New Delhi) so uncomfortable with this meeting?…It shows the arrogance of India,” he says.