An hour with Yaseen

Plea for inclusive talks and impressions thereof



On a visit to Yaseen Malik to enquire about his health, he was forthright in relating to me that given his present state of health, he may not be able to visit Pakistan at the present juncture. He related as much to Pakistan High Commission officials, taking the plea that he has stents, which would need to be removed later.  The officials called on him, while he was under treatment following surgery for kidney stones. Plea of the state of health withstanding, Yaseen considers the time inopportune, given that elections are in offing and it might be prudent to engage the leadership that emerges after elections, besides there is no set agenda.
 It may be stressed that visit was purely personal, without an intention of conducting an interview with the ailing JKLF leader.  However, to expect a visit to Yaseen with politics off the table is to expect the unthinkable. It is thick in his blood, deeply embedded. And he is a voracious reader of political literature. There is hardly a visit, free of relating some of the latest additions to his study. The latest one was on Hamas, Yaseen related it with relish. On occasions he has surprised me with his knowledge of the poetic essence of Allama Iqbal, a subject close to my heart. This is in spite of lack of formal education; however he is a keen learner. And he chooses his company wisely, which is as varied as academic doyen—Agha Ashraf Ali, legal icon—Zafar Shah, endocrinologist—Dr. Zafar Mahdi and pediatrician—Dr. Altaf.    
Yaseen is fighting gamely his ailments. Apart from his known cardiac state, he has had bilateral kidney stones. Being on blood thinners made him susceptible to bleeding post-operatively, however his spirit is pulling him through. Yaseen has been a fighter, and continues to be one, though the garb has changed from being an armed commander to leading a peace offensive, which has an inclusiveness that is need of the hour. It implies an all encompassing dialogue, looping in stakeholders in the resistance camp, whatever their hue.
Yaseen has reasons for his take. One, holding dialogue exclusively with one stream of resistance, to the exclusion of others may not bear the desired fruit. Two, it exposes the ones to political risks. Misgivings result, exposing flanks. In high days of armed conflict, even life could be at stake. Murderous assault on Fazl-ul-Haq Qureshi following what was reported to be an engagement in political dialogue is often quoted as an example.  Yaseen in past engagements related the risks involved in an exclusive dialogue to no less a person than Prime Minister—Manmohan Singh. He had opted for inclusion of entire resistance spectrum, including the armed groups. Armed conflict might have ebbed, it is far from over. Yaseen fears it might peak yet again, if peaceful campaigners are not provided space to operate. The space they were promised as they opted for peaceful struggle. Yaseen seemed incensed at the life sentences handed over recently to some of the accused, following prolonged judicial hibernation.
Sudden spurt in judicial activism has surprised many, Yaseen is no exception. Eminent persons, recalls Yaseen, pleaded returning to peaceful path, so as to open avenues for positive engagement. Hardly anything that could be called positive emerged from the change to peaceful means, rues Yaseen. He seemed to be particularly upset over the silence adopted by Indian civil society over the sentences of life imprisonment handed over recently. He fears it implies a warning, and needs to be contended. However, Yaseen has not given up treading the moderate path. I was soon to learn the reason.
 As Yaseen related his take of the latest book on Hamas, he asked me, how do I view the U.N General Assembly vote on granting observer status to Palestine? Hardly the full membership without a right to vote, I did not make much of it. It wouldn’t make a difference to the tough conditions, Palestinians are living in, I argued. Yaseen didn’t digest my take wholly. He viewed it differently. If ever international community chooses to concede anything in realistic terms, it would be to moderates—Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] ruling out a deal with Hamas. I got what it meant to convey. It was clear he visualized parallels in Palestinian and Kashmiri situation. And he clearly demonstrated his intention to continue to tread the moderate path.
I remembered yesteryears of Palestinian struggle, when Yasir Arafat’s farewell to arms sojourn started. He died without  meaningful return. Whether his successor Mahmood Abbas was rewarded to the extent, where Yaseen sees hope is a matter of speculation--my guess could be as good as yours?                        

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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