Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has cautioned Pakistan not to dilute the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir issue by making Gilgit-Baltistan a province, which would fully integrate it into Pakistan. Earlier, Geelani had refused to participate in the Eid Milan hosted by the Pakistani high commisioner in New Delhi to protest the omission of Kashmir from the joint declaration by Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi at Ufa.
In order to enhance his reach in the public and consolidate his base, Geelani has started speaking out on major issues and has tried to shake off the perception that he is a Pakistani prop. “I want to make it clear that Gilgat-Balistan belongs to Jammu and Kashmir. Unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved, it cannot merge with Pakistan,” Geelani said in a daylong seminar titled “Jammu Kashmir: A Single Geographical Entity”.
He said that such attempts by Pakistan will dilute the disputed nature of J&K. Geelani also called for unity in all the regions of the state, and stressed the right to self-determination for all its citizens.
Geelani was the only Hurriyat leader to doggedly oppose the four-point formula proposed by General Pervez Musharraf to solve the Kashmir dispute. More recently, Geelani has tried to equate New Delhi with Islamabad, and has cautioned Pakistan not to make friends with India at the cost of Kashmir.