Kashmir: Key people and parties

Main Political Parties:

The Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP): was founded in 1998 by Hashim Qureshi and  Shabir Ahmad Shah as a separatist party that advocates self-rule for Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (PDP): was founded in 1999 by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and is a separatist party that advocates self-rule for Jammu and Kashmir.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC): was founded in 1993 and is a political front formed as an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organisations in Kashmir. One of the main objectives of the APHC is ascend the Indian controlled regions of Kashmir to Pakistan and to instate Islamic governance.

photo by P.Morgan, published under the creative commons license

The Indian National Congress (INC): is one of the two major political parties in India and is considered centre-left in the Indian political spectrum. In the 2009 general election it formed a coalition with a number of allies called the UPA and was able to form a majority and form a government.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): is India’s second largest political party and is considered centre-right in the Indian political spectrum and is the Hindu-National party. They were in power from 1998 to 2004 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister.

The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Party (NCP): was founded by Sheikh Abduallah in 1939 and dominated electoral politics for many decades in the state, it is now being led by his grandson Omar Abdullah. They are a moderate separatist party and call for Jammu and Kashmir’s right to self-determination and autonomy.

Militant Groups:

Jaish-e-Mohammed: is a militant organisation that operates in Kashmir but is based in Pakistan. The group’s main aim is to ascend the Indian controlled regions of Kashmir to Pakistan and to instate Islamic governance. It has carried out several attacks. It has been banned in Pakistan since 2002 and its Commander-in–Chief Masood Azhar is currently imprisoned in Pakistan, however, the group continues to operate.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen: is a militant organisation that has operated in Kashmir since 1989 and is the militant wing of the Kashmiri political and religious group Jamaat-e-Islami. The current leader of the group is a Kashmiri known as Sayeed Salahudeen who resides in Pakistan. The group is considered by many to be the most widely supported and populist militant group active in the conflict.

Lashkar-e-Taibawas founded in 1994 as the militant wing of the Marqaz, a centre which was founded in the 1980s by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and is one the largest and most active of the militant operations. They have taken responsibility for a number of violent attacks including the Red Fort attacks in Delhi in 2000. India has also accused them of being responsible for the 2009 Mumbai attacks. They differ from the other main militant groups as most of their members are non-Kashmiri. They are an extremely well-known and prominent group in Pakistan. They have been banned since 2002 in Pakistan, but they continue to operate and include different factions.

photo by mfr_isb@yahoo.com published under the creative commons license

Key People:

Farooq Abdullah: Has dominated local politics for years and is the son of Sheikh Mohammed, who founded the National Conference Party. While he has accepted that Kashmir should remain part of the Indian Union, he has campaigned for its greater autonomy. He has been criticised for shifting his allegiances to political parties, but is currently an ally of the BJP.

Omar Abdullah: Is the son of Farooq Abdullah and was made head of the National Conference in 2008, he resigned in 2009 amid allegations of a sex scandal, however he is currently still in the party and is Chief Minister for Jammu and Kashmir.

Shabir Shah: Is a high profile campaigner for Kashmiri independence since the late 1960s, and has spent much of his life in Indian jails. However, he was suspended from the APHC due to political disagreements and went on to found his own party in 1998 called the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP).

Abdul Gani Bhat: Is another key player in Kashmiri politics and advocates for Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. In 1993 his party, the Muslim Conference, became part of the main Kashmiri separatists alliance, the APHC. He recently claimed that other separatists involved in the conflicts had assassinated some high profile leaders in the separatist movement and his own brother.

photo by kiyanwang, published under the creative commons license