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Exclusive: Ex-Hurriyat Chief on Kashmir and His Leadership

Abdul Gani Bhat, speaking to The Quint, says that Kashmir can’t be understood as merely an India-Pakistan issue.

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In an exclusive interview with The Quint, former Hurriyat chairman, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, openly criticises the group’s leadership, urging separatist leaders to follow a “strategy” rather than blindly replicating traditional methods of resistance.

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‘Does the Hurriyat Know What to Do Next?’

Professor Bhat, speaking exclusively to The Quint, says, “You cannot calenderise the sentiment rooted deep in the collective soul of Kashmir. You shall have to address the collective soul of Kashmir. You shall have to address the cravings of the soul of Kashmir. When you do it, you might reach the bottom of the problem. If you don’t choose to do it, you can then confuse yourself and cause confusion for others to live as well.”

His remarks come on a day when the Hurriyat has replicated the same protest calendar.

“You cannot move without a strategy. You can’t reach anywhere without a strategy. If you want to reach your destination, you shall have to have a strategy. If you choose to do anything, for god’s sake work out a strategy.”

Kashmir Is Not Merely an India-Pakistan Issue

Talking about the Kashmir issue, Bhat said that “there is only one way to resolve the Kashmir issue – a purposeful and productive dialogue that should happen between India and Pakistan. If we want to ensure stability in the region, we will have to address the issue. Dispute and peace can’t go together.”

He further said that the dispute in the valley cannot be reason for them to “forget their livelihood.”

“Kashmiris have two different targets to achieve. One is to sustain themselves economically, and the other is to live with contradictions. We never forgot the Kashmir dispute but that doesn’t mean we forget our livelihood as well. We have to live. We have to ensure that our boys and girls get education.”

He also said that the Kashmir issue cannot be understood merely as an India-Pakistan dispute.

“Kashmir, as a long disputed territory, has got linked to the future of south Asia as a whole. Kashmir is not merely an India-Pakistan issue and if they treat it like that, they are probably committing a mistake.” Bhat said.
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Mufti and I Share Different Mindsets, Bhat Says

Speaking in reference to the former chief minister of Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Bhat said that the two of them represent “two different mindsets.”

For 111 consecutive days, the Kashmir Valley has been shut down in protests since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani on 8 July. In its wake, schools across the Valley have been forced shut by the Hurriyat protest calendar.

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