A group of students perhaps egged on by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Forced their way into a dialogue between the journalists and students at
"The day after, a deadly jehadi outfit, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, fully endorsed her suspicions. The doubts regarding our visit were not confined to 'extremist fringes'. "Cartoon after cartoon appeared in a section of the popular newspapers of Srinagar, where the journalists from Pakistan were mocked with utmost contempt for avariciously relishing the meaty Wazwun of Kashmir and appreciating the scenic beauty of it like the dazed tourists on an exotic picnic." Kashmiris and the media castigated the team for accepting the J&K government's "5 Star hospitality".
"Yet, this diversity cannot be avoided. At the negotiating table, whenever that stage comes, one of the most difficult issues to resolve would be defining aazadi (freedom, liberation, independence) because a resolution would demand, more than emotions, an acceptable mechanism for determining the Kashmiri aspirations.
"One can broadly have two poles, the rest lying between the two. Syed Ali Geelani with his emphasis on accession to Pakistan being one; Omar Abdullah, the chief of National Conference with his emphasis on autonomy within the Indian Union being the other. The JKLF too is clear on its stand but as things stand there are not many takers for the independence option, at least in the way the group has formulated it or continues to do so. Geelani and Abdullah are closer to the ground realities because their solutions take into account the two major players:
They have been caught up in ethnic upheavals and the intermingling of Aryan, Turkic and Semitic races for many millennia. Descending from Medes, they were first mentioned as the Kurduchoi, who harassed Xenephon and his Ten Thousand during the epic retreat from
-- The Turks started moving into
Belonging to the Iranian-language! Family, Kurdish is spoken in five dialects and many sub-dialects, but the divisions among Kurds are reflected not only in the dialects or the countries they inhabit. Differences among them have persisted throughout history. In north
But, even when divided, they have enjoyed some semblance of autonomy, first under the British mandate, then the leftist regime of Brig Kassem, and even under the kid gloves and poisoned sword treatment of Saddam Hussein, with an almost free run during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. And then under US-led protection after the 1991 Gulf War. The idea of a Kurdish identity and autonomy, which was vigorously suppressed in the unitary Turkish state, was kept alive across in
The Iranians have manipulated Iraqi Kurds as did the Russians the Iranian Kurds during World War II, encouraging them to declare the
After the collapse of the USSR, Syria's patron and supplier of arms, a weakened and isolated Syria expelled Ocalan, who first went to the Russian Federation and then to Rome in search of asylum. Eventually he was apprehended after leaving the Greek embassy in Nairobi on February 16, 1999 by Turkish agents assisted by other countries, including, perhaps, the US and Israel. His capture was followed by violence and demonstrations in
Ocalan was tried and given the death verdict. At his trial, Ocalan, instead of being defiant, promised peace and to bring down the PKK fighters from the mountains. Awaiting a certain death sentence in a glass cage, Ocalan's performance was sober, dignified and consistent in his defense. Apart from the 1993 conditional ceasefire, he had offered the olive branch many times, including in 1994 and 1995. A court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment in October 2002.