A month after Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the aging leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference stepped down from his post as “chairman for life” of the Kashmiri separatist grouping with a fierce attack on Pakistan after year-long efforts by Islamabad to sideline him and his nominee in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, efforts are on in Pakistan to contain the fallout.
Pakistan’s Senate, the upper house of its parliament passed a resolution on Monday asking the government to confer its highest civilian honour, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, on him. It has also asked the government to name a proposed university in Islamabad after the 90-year-old Geelani, who has been under house arrest for several years.
The resolution, adopted unanimously, demanded that the story of his life be included in the school curriculum at the national and provincial levels. It resolved to hold a sitting of the Senate at Muzaffarabad.
The resolution comes amid confusion in the Hurriyat ranks in the Valley after Geelani’s blistering attack against Hurriyat leaders in PoK, whom he accused of corruption and cozying up to the Pakistani establishment. Geelani did not name anyone, but as reported by The Indian Express later, he was pointing a finger at G M Safi, who he had earlier ousted from the APHC on charges of making money out of free seats in medical colleges reserved for Kashmiri students by the Pakistan government.
Geelani was also bitter about the ouster of his nominee Abdullah Geelani as the head of the APHC in Muzaffarabad two months ago. Abdullah’s rift with the Pakistani security establishment had been growing since last year, and he was replaced by Hussain Mohammed Khatib, widely perceived as a frontman for Safi.
Geelani’s resignation letter, in which he asserted that Abdullah was his successor, sent shockwaves through the Valley, as well as on the other side of the LoC, as he was widely considered to be a spokesman for Pakistan in Kashmir.
After this, the APHC has been making efforts in the Valley to present a united front, but the arrest earlier this month of Ashraf Sehrai, who wanted to take over the reins of the Hurriyat, has caused a further setback to the plans of the separatists to salvage the situation.
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