OPINION

Testing new ideology, new slogans

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By: Tawfeeq Irshad Mir

Dr.  Shah Faesal’s party- a mainstream one- is officially announced now and it remains to be seen whether the founder really has a ‘new ideology’ and ‘new slogans’ to offer to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have found themselves at the receiving end in the decades old conflict.

In 2016, Faesal Strongly suggested that Kashmir should ‘stay with India’, adding that it (India) was the only country in the world with which a culturally diverse and politically disparate entity like Jammu and Kashmir can find an anchor.

In his article titled ‘Kashmiris trapped in deadly politics of grief, must abandon macabre heroism’ published in The Indian Express, Faesal has built his argument around the post-1990’s era of Kashmir conflict to censure the five-month-long unrest the valley witnessed in 2016.

“Every new agitation in Kashmir has had this familiar tetrad of eruption, hope, bereavement, despair. By the time the first stone was pelted in the July uprising of 2016, the outcome was already known to everyone. It is this predictability which has begun to worry Kashmiris now,” his article read.

Referring to 2016 unrest, he had further said that ‘revolution cannot be an annual summer carnival’ while claiming that Kashmir was the ‘most unlikely new nation to enter the world map’ due to the ‘flawed fundamental design’ of the Kashmir project.

He goes on saying that the “indiscipline” valley witnessed during the recent unrest has the “potential to criminalise society forever”.

“It was not the state as much as people to people violence, the humiliation of bystanders, vandalism against schools, damage to public property by “misguided teenagers” that exhausted Kashmiris, reducing a mass movement to a movement of mass from one corner of the street to the other corner,” he said. He also claimed that it was ‘hard to frame the Kashmir question properly’ and thus the region cannot be compared with Palestine, East Timor or Kosovo.

“Is it separation from India, annexation with Pakistan, the search for an Islamic caliphate or a secular democracy? Has it factored in sub-regional and diverse ethnic aspirations? If it is self-determination, then who are these people queued up outside polling stations? If the slogan is “azadi”, why is the Pakistani flag raised? Is it class-neutral or only a proletariat dream? Is it territory or ideology, economics or politics? Today, in Kashmir, it is hard to ask these questions because there are no answers. And because there are no answers, every such question is seen as a provocation or obfuscation of the truth about Kashmir,” the article reads.

The then MD JKPDC Faesal, in the conclusion, suggested Kashmiris to ‘stay with India’ since the country is an “emerging superpower”. “Looking at the crisis in the Muslim world, it will serve us well if we help ourselves out of the time warp we are stuck in, abandon false hope and macabre heroism and work towards a dignified exit from the conflict. One possibility is to accept that in spite of all its infirmities, India is the only country in the world with which a culturally diverse and politically disparate entity like Jammu and Kashmir can find anchor,” he concluded.

Now that he has launched his party with an apparently new slogan ‘Ab Hawa Badle Gi’ his vision and sagacity are expected to be unprecedented. I have gone through the manifesto which reflects depth of thought and a clear roadmap for achieving the ultimate goal. The very fertile idea of ‘possibilities’ in the document seems very promising but a strenuous task at the same time. Since Faesal recited Habeeb Jalib’s versus I would humbly request him to bear in mind the couplet of Iqbal which goes like this:

Khudi Se Iss Tilishm-e- Rang-o-Boo Ko Tod Sakte hai,

Yahi Tawheed Thee Jisko Nah Tu Samjha, Nah Mai samjha.

It is also pertinent to mention that while the party has suggested revival of Silk route, not much has been said about how the same could be done. The route, according to the vision document, is the strategic center for Central Asia and thus would be of great interest to the state. But how often have we seen that initiatives like that take ages to accomplish and yet depend completely on the nod of the central government in Delhi.

While one should not discourage any new initiative but asking questions is a must and there are many to be asked when a population has seen so much of bloodshed and conflict for decades together. It is a little bit unclear to me as to how the party would work for resolving the Kashmir dispute keeping in mind that those who take oath under the constitution of India, which clearly says that J&K is an integral part of Indian union, are seen as being on the side of Indian state rather than being on the side of Kashmir.

The parliament elections are very near and it is only time that will tell whether this new mainstream political party creates a niche for itself and win the hearts and minds of people here or follow the routine fate like many other such new political narratives.

tawfeeqirshad@gmail.com

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