All Parties Hurriyat Conference
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an alliance of secessionist parties and leaders, was formed on March 9, 1993 as a political front to further the cause of Kashmiri separatism. The amalgam has, since then, been consistently promoted by Pakistan in the latter's quest to establish legitimacy over its claim on the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The origins of the Hurriyat are traced to the 1993 phase of the Kashmir militancy. The initial euphoria of ‘armed struggle’ had subsided in the light of counter-insurgency operations launched by the Indian security forces. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) with its pro-independence ideology had been marginalised and replaced by a network of Islamist extremist outfits controlled by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s external intelligence agency.
Parallel to this, Pakistan was aggressively pursing an agenda of attempting to portray its proxy war against India as an indigenous uprising against Indian sovereignty and internationalise the Kashmir issue. It was in this context that the Hurriyat was formed as an umbrella body for all over-ground secessionist organisations. Since the international community frowned upon the resort to violence by non-state actors, the Hurriyat was an ideal platform to promote the Kashmiri secessionist cause.
Ideology and Role
According to the Hurriyat Conference, Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory and ‘India's control’ on it is not justified. It supports the Pakistani claim that Kashmir is the ‘unfinished agenda of Partition’ and needs to be solved ‘as per the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.’
The APHC perceives itself to be the sole representative of the Kashmiri people, a claim that has so far been endorsed explicitly only by Pakistan.
The outfit's primary role has been to project a negative image of counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and to mobilise public opinion against the Indian security forces. The alliance has consistently followed up local allegations of security force excesses, and in several documented cases, allegedly distorted facts to suit its propaganda. For instance, the Haigam firing incident of February 16, 2001 was portrayed as an assault on a peaceful gathering whereas, as later indicated in news reports and official clarifications, the army contingent fired upon the mob only when they were blocked and prevented from moving.
The APHC enjoys an observer's status in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Incidentally, the OIC had dropped hard-line Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, from its guest list and instead invited Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for its June 2005 Foreign Ministers Conference in Yemen.
There are currently two factions of the Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz (a hereditary title of one of Kashmir's important religious seats, and also head priest of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar) Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The Mirwaiz-led group, also referred to as the ‘moderate faction’ along with non-Hurriyat leaders like Yasin Malik undertook, between June 2-16, 2005, the first formal visit of Kashmiri separatists to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and subsequently, though unsanctioned by Indian authorities, to Pakistan.
Internal fissures within the Hurriyat Conference had culminated in a formal split on September 7, 2003, with at least 12 of its 26 constituents 'removing' the then Chairman Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari and 'replacing' him with Massarat Alam as its interim chief. The dissenters reportedly met at the residence of hardliner and pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) leader S. A. S. Geelani and decided to depose Ansari and 'suspend' the seven-member executive committee, the highest decision-making forum of the APHC. A five-member committee was formed to review the Hurriyat Constitution and suggest amendments to reverse what the dissenters perceive as 'autocratic' decisions taken by the executive committee.
Since then, Geelani has formed his own faction of the Hurriyat called the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir. On October 12, 2004 he was unanimously elected as its Chairman for a period of three years. A 25-member strong Majlis-e-Shoora (advisory council) to assist and advise the Chairman was also announced on the same day. A statement released by the faction said 21 members were elected to the 'shoora' and the Chairman was authorised to nominate four members. It also said all the 14 districts of the State were duly represented in the 'shoora,' the highest decision-making body of the outfit. The Geelani reportedly has 16 constituents.
The alliance largely functions as a co-operative body with an Executive Council composing of seven members drawn from the main constituent outfits. The Executive Council is the highest decision-making authority. It currently comprises:
Other important leaders of the APHC faction headed by the Mirwaiz are: Fazal Haq Qureshi of the People's Political Front, who is also a member of the General Council (which has eight members); Javid Ahmad Mir of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Forum; Syeda Nuzhat of the Khawateen-e-Kashmir; Chairman of the breakaway faction of the Democratic Freedom Party Syed Saleem Geelani; Mohammad Yousuf Naqash of the Islamic Political Party; Manan Bukhari of the Republican Party; Mohammad Amin Qureshi of the People's Political Conference; Khalil Ahmad Khalil of the People’s Conference faction led by Bilal Lone (the other faction is led by his brother Sajad Lone); Tableegul Islam leader Bashir Kant; Allama Iqbal Students Union leader Abdul Manan; Amuatai-e-Islami leader Abdul Hamid Bhawani; Shahid-ul-Islam is the spokesperson.
Both factions are headquartered in Srinagar, capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Hurriyat Conference appointed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as its caretaker chairman on August 8, 2004, saying efforts to unify the factions would continue. The decision was made at the Hurriyat’s executive council meeting in Srinagar, attended by five general council members, invited especially for consultations. The executive council met for the first time to discuss the unification of the two factions after Maulana Abbas Ansari resigned on July 7, 2004.
The Constitution of the APHC says: "The APHC shall be a union of political, social, and religious parties of the state of Jammu and Kashmir with its head office in Srinagar."
It spells the objectives of the conglomerate as:
The Executive Council: The executive council shall consist of seven members from the seven executive parties. They are: Syed Ali Shah Geelani (Jamaat-e-Islami) Umar Farooq (Awami Action Committee), Sheikh Abdul Aziz (People’s League), Moulvi Abbas Ansari (Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen), Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat (Muslim Conference), Yasin Malik (JKLF) and Abdul Gani Lone (People’s Conference).
The chairman shall hold the office for two years. He shall vacate his office if he ceases to be a member of the executive council. He may at any time resign his office by submitting his resignation to the executive council.
General Council: It had more than 23 parties and organisations as members, including traders and employee unions. While the membership of the executive council as per the constitution can not be increased, the general council can accommodate more members if deemed so or if any party or organisation seeks membership.
Quorum: The quorum for the meetings in the executive council is four members.
Official Spokesman: The executive council may appoint one of its members as the official spokesman of the APHC to explain the view point if the APHC.
Finance: The executive committee shall also act as the finance committee of the APHC.
(The original list of 26 parties)