The recent developments within Pakistan’s notorious spy agency or Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with regard to Kashmir policy, especially its approach to the Separatist camp, has instilled fear within the leaders. Separatist leaders from both parts of Kashmir are clueless as to why their mentors are taking a different course to the earlier stated policy and have apparently left them in a lurch. This has made them rethink if it was prudent to heavily depend upon Pakistan for some kind of save as they were answerable to the Kashmiris, whom they claim they represent.
The results for the past three decades have been dismal as it has led them nowhere except death and destruction. After using them during three decades long militancy, the Pakistan Generals have made them realize that they were mere pawns in the nefarious game played by Pakistan against India without caring for Kashmiris’ interests.
In the past, a few leaders amongst this group have, in private, acknowledged that Pakistan had the potential to upset their plans, but they did not expect it would come so soon and as a rude shock. Although their rational thinking alerted them about the recorded history of Pakistan betrayals, yet they got carried away by the slogans of ‘Azadi’ (freedom) and ‘self-determination’.
Now, at this juncture they are desperately struggling having reached a point of no return.
The posturing of ISI post August 5, 2019 has changed drastically. It had tremendous hopes that both the factions of Hurriyat would act swiftly in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere when the special status of the valley was revoked by the Indian government; that people would go for incessant protests and the youth would engage the Indian security forces, bringing normal life to stand-still. But nothing of the sort happened. Pakistan through its other proxies also did not succeed in any such attempt. It was rapidly losing both the turf and trust of Kashmiris.
The sheer frustration of Pakistan unfolded during the month of June when it first targeted Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The influence of one-time fire brand leader Geelani was waning within Pakistan quarters. His behavior was unbecoming for his masters since he had dissolved the set-up of Hurriyat in Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) in May 2020, citing non-implementation of certain hard decisions taken by him, apart from corrupt practices in the award of scholarships as the reason. For those who are expecting this leadership to find a solution to vexed Kashmir problem, it is noteworthy that Kashmiri leaders were making tremendous amount of money out of the allocation of medical seats for Kashmiri students in Pakistan.
The decline of Geelani’s influence was reflected when Majlis-e-Shoora of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) in a meeting chaired by Farooq Rehmani of the People’s Freedom League, ousted Geelani’s confidant Abdullah Gilani and unanimously elected Mohd Hussain Khateeb as the interim Convener of the APHC in PoJK.
Geelani could not take this insult in view of his stature and took out his bitterness in a two-page letter disassociating himself from the APHC.
Now, the focus of ISI has turned to the moderate faction of Hurriyat represented by Syed Faiz Naqshbandi in PoJK, to bear the brunt and face humiliation. In a recent letter written to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Naqshbandi has lamented the prevailing state of affairs of APHC and ISI’s undue interference. He has indicated high level of distress amongst leaders and atmosphere of uncertainty everywhere wherein nobody could be believed in the outfit.
Pakistan and the ISI were frequently changing their stance towards the APHC and bringing new people to the fore. Bringing new people would mean that they would act as puppets in the hands of Pakistan and act only towards implementing Pakistan’s plans across LoC without watching larger Kashmiri interests for which the so-called ‘movement’ was raised during 1990’s.
Naqshbandi has apprehensions which seem genuine in the given environment that after targeting Geelani and Syed Salahuddin, ISI may target him as he is opposed to its changing stance towards Kashmir cause and has expressed displeasure for undue interference in Hurriyat affairs. Tensions are running high with moderate faction of Hurriyat as they fear that Pakistan’s recklessness could spark a wider conflict in which they see their role as totally marginalized.