Dubai Conference Creates Fissures Among Kashmiri Separatists

Salahuddin has said that the Dubai Conference was “just an exercise to mint money”.

4 min read

Salahuddin complained that the Dubai Conference was “just an exercise to mint money” and its participants were “on payrolls”.

Notwithstanding the United States of America designating Hizbul Mujahideen as a global terrorist organisation and its ‘supreme commander’ as a global terrorist, senior Jamaat-e-Islami activist Syed Mohammad Yousuf Shah aka Salahuddin carries a ‘distinction’ in the Valley’s separatist camp.

Since 1990, his organisation has been the most formidable militant outfit and Salahuddin has been indisputably the most authentic and the most representative voice of the Kashmiri insurgents.

Days after a British non-profit organisation Conciliation Resources (CR) organised a get-together of the Kashmiri activists in the Gulf from 31 July to 2 August, Salahuddin complained that the Dubai Conference was “just an exercise to mint money” and its participants were “on payrolls”.

Even as, in his interview to the Pakistani newspaper State Views on Tuesday, Salahuddin maintained that the participants had upheld the Indian point of view, he avoided to identify who, according to him, had funded their activity.

Who Attended the Dubai Conference?

Interestingly, those who attended the controversial conference included the PoK convenor of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s Hurriyat Conference, Syed Fiaz Ahmad Naqashbandi, member of the PoK Legislative Assembly and former Amir of the PoK Jamaat-e-Islami, Abdul Rashid Turabi, Speaker of the PoK Legislative Assembly, Secretary General Pakistan Muslim League (N) and former Minister Shah Ghulam Qadir, President of Pakistan Peoples Party in PoK and former Minister Choudhary Lateef Akber, member PoK Legislative Assembly and central leader of Muslim Conference, Sardar Sagheer Ahmed Chughtai and Executive Director Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR), Sardar Amjad Yousaf.

Pakistani activist Ershad Mahmud and Kashmiri journalists Shujaat Bukhari and Zaffar Choudhary represented CR’s J&K partner, Kashmir Initiative Group, at the conference.

Iftikhar Geelani, a New Delhi-based journalist and son-in-law of the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, besides prominent human rights activists Zaheer-ud-din and Khurram Pervez, were also present in Dubai as the representatives from Kashmir.

Congress legislators, Ghulam Nabi Monga and Asgar Ali Karbalayi, BJP’s Member of Legislative Council Vikram Randhawa, National Conference leader and former Minister Nasir Aslam Wani besides National Panthers Party leader and former MLA, Balwant Singh Mankotia, represented the J&K-based mainstream political parties.

While as the former Indian Air Force deputy chief, Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, was picked up by the organisers from New Delhi, former Directors General of ISI, Lt Gen (retd.) Asad Durrani and Gen Ehsan ul Haq, who functioned as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Pakistan Military in Gen Pervez Musharraf’s government until October 2007, were roped in from Islamabad.

‘Participants Backstabbing Tehreek’

When this conference was happening, funerals were being held in Kashmir and they (participants) were backstabbing the tehreek (movement).

The militant leadership, he said, was not against dialogue or for prolonging the status quo.

But when genocide of our youth is being carried out, how can we remain silent? It is unfortunate and I am surprised who had gagged the mouth of these participants. Who had given them the right to pass resolution and issue statements against the movement?

“Kashmiris are not sacrificing their lives for the trade of onions and potatoes, nor for the permanent division of Kashmir. Those who participated in the Dubai Conference are working on payrolls,” Salahuddin alleged, adding that such conferences were nothing but futile exercises to mint money.

‘Will Not Disclose Details’

None of the separatists in Kashmir agreed to react to Salahuddin. They invariably told The Quint that they were bound by the Chatham House rules and would not comment or disclose anything that happened at the conference.

Salahuddin’s tantrums have made our position awkward. His assertions are based on something that never happened. There was no consensus statement. There was no resolution for cessation of armed insurgency which seems to have charged him. In fact many of us pleaded for a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir under the UN resolution, which is Pakistan’s stated position.
Participant from Srinagar

Congress MLC Ghulam Nabi Monga said,

We stressed on cessation of hostilities, restoration of the November 2003 ceasefire, revival of Indo-Pakistan dialogue where it had been left by Manmohan Singh and Gen Musharraf, expansion of cross-LoC trade and travel, youth exchange programmes, etcetera. We discussed only peace, not terrorism and militancy

PoK Participants Issue Strong Rebuttal

However, the participants from PoK did not observe so-called Chatham House rule. Almost all of them on Thursday issued a joint statement in strong rebuttal to Salahuddin’s allegations.

The participants of the conference were of the unanimous view that the settlement of Kashmir issue is possible only through dialogue... (they) also unanimously demanded revival of the ceasefire on the Line of Control in order to reduce the miseries of the Kashmiris.
Statement by PoK Participants

The statement with an implicit affront to the Hizbul Mujahideen chief read, “The participants of the Kashmir conference further stated that they have trust in dialogue and engagement on Kashmir provided that the Kashmiris are a part of every such exercise.”

They added that they will always support and vouch for an internal dialogue at each stage among Kashmiris and those sitting in cosy offices here and abroad, who have practically done nothing for Kashmir, can’t deter them from their commitment towards dialogue, engagement, and people-centric resolution of Kashmir conflict.

Well-placed sources in the separatist camp revealed to The Quint that a meeting of the Joint Resistance Leadership at Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s residence on Wednesday took exception to participation of the representative of Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz faction), Fiaz Naqashbandi, in the Dubai Conference.

Some of the speakers, according to sources, wanted Mirwaiz to explain how his representative had attended the conference without taking the joint leadership – Geelani, Mirwaiz and JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik – on board.

(The writer is a Srinagar-based journalist. He can be reached @ahmedalifayyaz.)

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