Geelani is seen by everyone in J&K and in Pakistan as Pakistan’s “first and last” man in Kashmir
The 91-year-old Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been in poor health for long, made Kashmir valley gasp (although not in horror) when on Monday he announced that he was quitting his own faction of the Hurriyat Conference, which he had established in 2003 upon breaking away from the then 10-year-old composite All Parties Hurriyat Conference — an amalgam of separatist parties, tendencies and factions — led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Geelani is seen by everyone in J&K and in Pakistan as Pakistan’s “first and last” man in Kashmir.
The redoubtable patriarch of pro-Pakistan politics in the Valley, noted for issuing strike calendars that often led to a coercive atmosphere and street violence, did not “dissociate” himself from politics for health reasons.
Questions would not have been asked if he had. But since that’s not the case, prominent sections of the local media have carried scathing commentaries on the larger ideas emanating from Mr Geelani.
The Modi government can learn something from this, and reach the understanding that the only worthwhile takeaway from Kashmir is that the valley is not pro-Pakistan in its make-up, and that religious affinity in this case is of no relevance.
In a note to his constituents, the pro-Pakistan ideologue has accused his PoK-based followers of becoming self-seekers and of Hurriyat (Geelani) followers in the Valley of endorsing that trend. In short, Mr Geelani’s followers have been condemned by their master as being corrupt.
If the leader had been aware of this, as he acknowledges, then why did he not do anything about it? This is the question being asked in Kashmir.
The possibility of change in the political landscape with Mr Geelani gone will naturally depend on the actions of political actors and, notably, of the government.