By Faisul Yaseen
Srinagar, Sep 13: After being denied clearance and passports by the Government of India (GoI) and in some cases visa by Pakistan High Commission, attending the Pugwash conference in Islamabad next week has become a case of sour grapes for some Kashmiri politicians.
According to sources, a number of mainstream politicians including the State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz, ruling National Conference (NC) leader Mehboob Beg and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti had applied for GoI’s political clearance for visiting Pakistan to attend the Pugwash conference although there was no need for them to do so.
Sources said Soz, Beg and Mehbooba were all denied the permission.
However, Mehbooba was later given a go ahead but she has preferred not to attend the conference on the pretext that she has already chalked her itinerary for the month of September.
“There was no need for them to ask for political clearance from New Delhi,” sources said. “Unlike them, CPI (M) State Secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami did not ask for any clearance as he was willing to come.”
Sources said after the union ministry obviously denied them the clearance, these politicians said they were not going.
They said these mainstream politicians had cancelled their visit not because they had some other plans or that the event was not organized well but because they did not get GoI’s clearance.
The conference to be held at Islamabad in Pakistan is scheduled from September 15 to 17. It was earlier scheduled from August 17 to August 21 but was postponed.
Sources said Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi also denied visas to some of the mainstream politicians knowing their stand on Kashmir issue.
“Parties like PDP make anti-India claims in Kashmir but by applying for clearance from GoI, they proved what they stood for and that they will only go where New Delhi sends them and otherwise they won’t,” they said. “People like Saifuddin Soz and Mehboob Beg are members of the ruling parties and so one can understand why they sought GoI’s permission and blessings.”
Sources said Beg too was later given the permission and told the sponsors on July 28 that he would attend the conference.
Meanwhile, some of the separatists who had been invited for the conference would also not be able to attend.
Sources said some of these separatists badly wanted to attend the event so that they could raise the “real voice of Kashmir” at the conference.
However, passports of none of the top Kashmiri separatist leaders including the chairmen of the parallel factions of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik is ready.
Even the separatist-turned-mainstream leader Sajad Lone too does not have his passport ready.
Pugwash Secretary General Paolo Cotta Ramusino had visited Kashmir in May this year to extend invitation to mainstream and separatist leaders for the conference.
Sources said that this time around Islamabad was also avoiding some mainstream Kashmiri politicians including Mehbooba Mufti.
“A new government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has assumed power in Pakistan and PDP is still harping on Sharif’s arch-rival Parvez Musharaff’s four-point Kashmir formula. Pakistan has a new Kashmir policy and PDP does not fit in it,” they said.
Sources said Islamabad understands that unlike such politicians, civil society activists who have no political affiliations and attachments would be able to speak the truth on Kashmir.
“This is the reason why many Track II diplomats too had asked for the visa,” they said.
Sources said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had earlier turned down the invite because of his prior engagements.
In 2006, leaders from both separatist and mainstream camps, including NC President and incumbent chief minister Omar Abdullah and opposition PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti had participated in the conference held in Islamabad.
A spokesman of the Pugwash said goal of the conference was to discuss and develop ideas and proposals that, if applied, would improve in concrete terms the connections across the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, and eliminate the restrictions that limit the movement and the freedom of the people in the entire region, and promote economic cooperation and development in the entire region.
Besides, the chief minister, the list of invitees included Saifuddin Soz, M Y Tarigami, Mehboob Beg, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajjad Lone, Mohammad Shafi, Nirmal Singh, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shujaat Bukhari, Nidhi Razdan, Suhasini Haidar, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Zafar Choudhary, Fayaz Ahmad Kaloo, Mehmood-ur-Rashid, Happymon Jacob, Noor Ahmad Baba, Gull Wani, Fozia Qadri, Tashi Gyalson, Amitabh Mattoo, Siddiq Wahid, Syed Azeez Pasha, Farooq Kathwari, G Parthasarathy, Maya Singh, Vivek Katju, C Raja Mohan, Nirupama Subramanian, Samir Bhat, Shatrughan Sinha, Jyoti Malhotra, Zahoor Ahmad Shah, Posh Charak, Vijay Dardas, Asif Lone, Avinash Khanna, Sreeradha Datta, S K Lambah, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Wajahat Habibullah, A S Dulat, and Sameer Kaul.
Among them, visas of 16 persons that were cleared include senior journalists Shujaat Bukhari, Suhasini Haidar and Zafar Choudhary, Greater Kashmir senior editor Mehmood-ur-Rashid, columnist Jyoti Malhotra, academician Happymon Jacob, Noor Ahmad Baba, Gull Wani, Qazi Fozia and Posh Charak, academician Siddiq Wahid, businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah, Asif Lone of the Peoples Conference, and Tashi Gyalson PDP leader from Ladakh, former Rajya Sabha MP from CPI Syed Azeez Pasha and University of Kashmir researcher Samir Bhat.
Courtesy: Rising Kashmir
Publish Date: 14-09-13 10:48 AM
By Faisul Yaseen