Kavita Suri

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Exclusive Interview: 

Fazal Haq Qureshi

Widely respected in Kashmir’s political and separatist circles for his deep devotion and sincerity to the “cause”, Fazal Haq Qureshi, chairman, Peoples’ political Front (PPF) had come to the international limelight when the Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Commander(operations) Abdul Majid Dar announced his name as HM emissary for the proposed HM-India talks. Though the unilateral ceasefire announced by the HM somehow fizzled out, Fazal Haq Qureshi whose role as interlocutor has been replaced by K.C.Pant this time, is observing the emerging political situations in the trouble-torn state very carefully. Stated to be very close to HM commander Abdul Majid Dar. Qureshi has played a long inning in the separatist movement. Infact, he was the founder member of the first prominent underground separatist outfit “Al Fateh” in the late 60’s. The outfit worked for three years before getting exposed in 1971.What followed was a series of arrests of its members alongwith Qureshi who was suspended from his service in Jammu and Kashmir Civil Secretariat. 

Unlike other separatist leaders who have managed huge funds and have imporved their lifestyles, Qureshi continues to live in a single story house in Bilal Colony of  Soura in Srinagar outskirts. The man who gave a tough challenge to Shiekh Abdullah for his “sell out” to Indian government on Shiekh-Indira Accord of 1975, speaks to KAVITA SURI about the developing situation in Jammu and Kashmir politics. Excerpts……

Q: Last year, your were appointed HM emissary after the unilateral ceasefire declared by the militant outfit. This time again a ceasefire was announced and K.C.Pant made the interlocutor. How was last year’s situation different from the present one? 
A: If we interpret last year’s unilateral ceasefire move by the Hizbul Mujahideen, I think it was a very beautiful move and so many hopes were attached to it. I don’t think the next move of ceasefire by the Indian government had that big dimension . There is no two opinion about it that the Hizbul Mujahideen ceasefire was a well–considered and well-conceived move, It was thought that it would pave way for the permanent settlement of Kashmir dispute. 

On Pant’s visit to Kashmir as the Government of India emissary, the APHC general council meeting was convened after a pretty long time and it was discussed that if he is talking about peace, then it is a bad story as peace without solution of the dispute, has no significance. Hence it was rejected. Though Pant tried to meet us, I think the passion which last year’s move by HM had, it was missing this time. But at the same time, I feel that inviting General Pervez Musharraf for a dialogue in itself was dynamic step  for India which was always harping on stopping cross border terrorism before any dialogue with Pakistan. 

Q: You just said that the Indian ceasefire and then invitation to General Mushrraf was a dynamic but delayed move. Do you think that had the different? 
A: Obviously, I think that poor Hindustan Times photographer would not have died in an explosion in Residency Road last year had Vajayee given his statement that he had no reservation in solving Kashmir dispute through a dialogue in a democratic set up a little earlier. It was a delayed statement . The blast had taken a couple of days before it. But it is still not too late. Now I think that the two nations should think  what they are doing and what should be the possible solutions. Even if at that time, India  would have agreed that Pakistan would be brought into the parleys at any later stage, things would have been different, infact very very different. I still say, it is not too late even now. HM comander Abdul Majid Dar has said that they are ready to cooperate if there is meaningful deliberation .He said that they would opt out of violence and will support the dialogue and help in resolving the dispute between the two countries. 

Q: If HM Commander Dar feels that is is a meaningful move, why doesn’t he come overground and help in the peace process? 
A: No, that’s not right as the exercise has still not taken some shape. Once some good results emerge and there is something promising, that will definitely invite what you say. That will be a message not only for the Hizbul Mujahideen but everyone who is interested in getting the kashmir issue resolved. It would be a message to everyone as how to behave then. 

Q: Last time when I had talked to you, you had said that the post-Agra summit period would be turning point in Kashmir politics and its future. You had said that it would indicate as how our next morning would be, how we have to tread and how we have to continue with the journey. What do you say now? 
A: My Peoples Political Front  is still hopeful.  Now both the leaders are going to meet this month also , so we are quite hopeful. Tough posturing is not going to help. Indian and Pakistan have to handle Kashmir issue very delicately. Even international pressure is building on the both countries and there has to have some solution with regard to Kashmir dispute.   I do not see any other option before the two countries but to talk. War would be too devastating for both the countries. We are not disappointed by the happening in Agra. 

Q: Do you thinks that Indo-Pak talks can succeed without any third party mediation? 
A: It you are pointing towards Hurriyat’s role, I think they do not have any role in Indo-Pak summits. The summits can succeed without any third party mediation- be it APHC or anybody else. Though the representative character of Hurriyat has been established, I feel that summits can take place without anybody’s mediation in a cordial atmosphere. 

Q: Coming back to the previous question, as you had also played the role of an interlocutor, do you think that Pant is moving along the right track? 
A: Well, I had related myself with the entire subcontinent as a whole. I had not put myself in a limited sphere or boundary. At that time, I had said that I would do every possible thing to bring India and Pakistan closer so that they solve the pending dispute, But I see a difference now. Whatever Pant’s mission is now, I don’t doubt his bonafides or his integrity, he is a very good interlocutor as I was, but one thing is quite clear, as he is part of the establishment, his emphasis has to be towards them only- that is towards the Indian stand, Indian thought. Being a part of the government, he has his own limitations. Even if he wants to come out of it, he cannot do it.  We, on the other hand had kept ourselves quite open., We were as close to Pakistan as to India. Being Kashmiri, in a way I was equidistant from both of them(India and Pakistan). In a way, I feel that Pant sahib, with all his might, all his intellect, all his experience would like to give the net profit to India, may be on one context or the other. So I see a difference in it vis-a-vis the interlocutor part that I could do. 

Q: People have been talking about various solutions-buffer state, independent kashmir, conversion of LoC into a permanent border etc etc. What is your view on that? 
A: I think it is safe playing. I cannot conceive acceding to Pakistan. Accession with India is already being defied by the people of Kashmir for obvious reasons, My Peoples Political Front(PPF) is not in favour of an independent Kashmir. Even this solution is not acceptable to China. The PPF has already expressed a possible solution which is granting a semi-soverign status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir by the two sovereign states - that is –Indian and Pakistan manage defence, foreign affairs and communication between themselves as per international laws and address the problem once for all. 

Q: Do you think it is practicable? 
A: Why not. Lets think about British India and the state of Jammu and Kashmir as it was before 1947. It had the same kind of arrangement. We had home rule, we had our own militia, we had special relationship with Britishers. Now that British India has been replaced by India and Pakistan. Kashmir is their baby now, it’s their headache as how to make the arrangements and how to come out of this problem. 

Personally, I feel that it is not a big problem for both the countries to manage foreign affairs, communication and defence jointly. We share the boundaries with India and Pakistan. They can very easily manage borders from their respective sides with international guarantees that there won’t be any aggression towards Kashmir. 

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