Syed Ali Geelani – Top Kashmiri Separatist Leader Could Get Pakistan’s Highest Civilian Award

Syed Ali Geelani, who recently quit Hurriyat Conference has been hailed as a hero in Pakistan. Pakistan’s upper house of parliament unanimously passed a resolution lauding the “relentless” struggle of top Kashmiri separatists leader of Kashmir – Syed Ali Geelani.

The resolution, jointly moved by both the government and opposition benches, commended the ailing leader’s “unwavering commitment, dedication, perseverance and leadership,” and acknowledged his role in “exposing Indian atrocities, suppressive measures and human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir).”

Kashmir, a disputed territory, is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China. Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence or unification with neighbouring Pakistan.

On Aug. 5, 2019, New Delhi revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the country’s only Muslim-majority state with its autonomy. It also locked the region down, detained political leaders, imposed a curfew, and enforced a communications blackout.

The Senate expressed concern over Geelani’s “unjustified” house arrest. He’s 90 years old and in frail health.

The resolution called upon the government to name the proposed Pakistan University of Engineering and Emerging Technologies near the Prime Minister’s House in the capital Islamabad as Syed Ali Shah Gilani University of Engineering and Emerging Technologies.

It recommended the government to confer upon him Nishan-e-Pakistan, the country’s highest civil award, for his struggle to settle the dispute in the light of UN resolutions, which give Kashmiris the right to self-determination.

“Include the life and struggle of Syed Ali Shah Gilani in the educational curriculum at the federal and provincial level and mobilize world conscience to help Gilani get best available treatment at a place of his choice,” the resolution read.

The motion came just hours after Geelani’s announcement to observe a strike on Aug. 5 and Aug. 15 in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement, he termed India’s Aug. 5 move as “one of the darkest chapters,” saying the day should be observed as an “awareness day” and the Kashmiri diaspora around the world should protest outside Indian embassies.

Last month, he stepped down from the leadership of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of several pro-freedom parties in the Himalayan region.

By Islamuddin Sajid