Sartaj Aziz met the Hurriyat leaders, indicating the kind of priority Nawaz Sharif places on Kashmir.
The first thing that Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s special adviser did when he visited here was to stir up a controversy. Sartaj Aziz met the Hurriyat leaders, indicating the kind of priority Nawaz Sharif places on Kashmir. That the separatist leaders rushed to meet him should not surprise us, but both the Congress and Opposition seemed suitably chagrined at this turn of events. Our foreign minister Salman Khurshid was so offended by this that he declared that it will not bode well for India-Pakistan dialogue. It is not lost on anybody that it is now more than a month and a half since our PM Manmohan Singh met Sharif in New York and that one significant outcome of the meeting was an agreement that the military representatives of both country should meet to bring down the temperatures along the LoC. This has not happened. Instead Aziz comes and spends time with the Kashmiri separatists.
It is not hard to guess what might have transpired. Our Kashmiri brethren would have upbraided him for Pakistan talking to New Delhi. They would have remonstrated to Aziz that the Indian Army continued to remain unchecked and human rights violations need to be brought up in international fora. Hurriyat leaders would have criticized the Pakistani government for not pursuing the line that Jammu and Kashmir needed to be demilitarised. They would have told him that the more money would be welcome. They would have had pakoras and tea and posed later for the cameras. This has been going on for a long time now. It need not surprise us. Yet we get angry. There was a time some years ago when there was such an uproar when Hurriyat leaders were allowed to travel to Pakistan. Now such journeys do not raise too many eyebrows because this has become routine, a banality even. Then why the excitement over the Pakistani meeting with the Hurriyat?
Last week, coincidentally, Jalil Abbas Jilani, the Pakistani foreign secretary was named as ambassador to the US. Some years ago, and it has been pointed out previously here, he used to be the number two man in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, while the BJP was in power. In February 2003, the Government called in Ibne Abbas then a counsellor in the Pakistani High Commission, and declared Jilani persona nongrata and gave him 48 hours to clear out of the country along with four other Pakistan High Commission staffers. The crime: funding the Kashmiri separatists. Apparently, a leader of Muslim Khawateen Markaz, Anjum Zamruda Habib, had come to meet Jilani in the high commission and when she left the high commission a sum of `3 lakh was found in her purse, for the purposes of distributing to Kashmiri separatists and Jilani had allegedly given her the money. The government then shut down the Kashmir Awareness Bureau, the front for the Hurriyat in Delhi. Immediately thereafter in a tit-for-tat move, the Pakistanis threw out five Indian diplomats. Abbas is now the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi. After he became foreign secretary, Jilani came to New Delhi, hugged Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, looked lovingly into his eyes, and must have made the same promises that now Aziz surely made to the Hurriyat.
Do these meetings between the Pakistanis and Hurriyat matter so much that we should get agitated about them?