Is this the way forward!

We believe that it is this politics of deceit and deception which has discredited the politics in Kashmir.

Dr. Bashir Ahmad Veeri
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 12 2019 11:21PM | Updated Date: Jan 13 2019 2:46AM
Is this the way forward!File Photo

Two senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders Ms. Mehbooba Mufti and Mr. Muzaffar Hussain Baig recently spoke at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an independent think tank based in New Delhi & Mumbai. The theme of the conference was ‘Kashmir: The Way Forward’. 

Ms. Mufti’s speech was an unstructured and incoherent one. She spoke on a range of issues but ‘a way forward’. Mere invocation of ‘Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat, and Insaniyat’ does not solve the problem. She was candid enough to begin by saying that there is a complete disconnect between Delhi and J&K. One wonders as to why she feels this disconnect only now when she is out of power. While in power she was all praise for Prime Minister Modi. This is what she said as late as May 6, 2017: “I say today with authority... If anyone can find a solution to Jammu and Kashmir problem, it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi... He has a strong mandate. Whatever decision he takes, the country will support him”. She concluded by saying that we need to replace the idea of Azadi with something else without actually explaining what that ‘something else’ is. 

The speech by Baig sahab was somewhat comprehensive but contradictory in nature. First of all he passed a judgment on the current armed struggle in Kashmir. For him, it is now solely a religious movement and the element of politics is least visible. He said, “Mothers take pride in getting their teen age children killed for Islam”. In the same breath he says that if a plebiscite is held in J&K, majority of Muslims will opt for India because Kashmiri people are secular by nature. 

Baig sahab offers an advice to the Kashmir based political parties. Do not make false promises: “It is a false promise to tell people that we will get more autonomy. We can’t get more autonomy. Whatever has been surrendered has been surrendered”. So, for Baig sahab, the false promises of ‘future’ or ‘autonomy’ are responsible for discrediting the politics in Kashmir.

There was another contradiction in Baig sahab’s speech. While he denounces the idea of autonomy, he also acknowledges that he drafted the constitution of Peoples Conference when he was its vice president. And as PDP leader he drafted the party’s constitution and the basic principles. We know that ‘Self-Rule’ forms the core of PDP’s ideology. It is a revivalist document. It supports the restoration of Article 370, roll back of article 312 and 356 of Indian constitution, demilitarization, roll back of AFSPA and hassle-free cross-LoC trade. Self-Rule also reads that the governor should be elected not nominated. So, is this document a false promise? If you were part of its drafting committee then why is it now a false promise? How do you reconcile these contradictions in your behaviour? Or you are following Napoleon Bonaparte very seriously: “Politics has no heart. It has only a head”. 

So the agenda of PDP looks very simple. In New Delhi they talk about Islamization, radicalization, false promises (autonomy) and the enemy (Pakistan). But in Kashmir they demonize BJP, talk about Saffronization of India, Self-Rule, and dialogue with Pakistan. And if this is not enough, they make a surprise visit to militant’s families, shoot some pictures, upload them on twitter and boost about the bravado. This amounts to rubbing salt in the wounds of bereaved families. How can people forget the ‘milk’ and ‘toffee’ remarks? But never underestimate the wisdom of a common man/woman. PDP talked about keeping BJP and RSS at bay during the campaign for the last assembly elections. But once elections were over they had a change of heart. Baig sahab reveals in his speech that he suggested to late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who after election results talked about opening the window for an alliance with BJP, to open the heart instead. 

We believe that it is this politics of deceit and deception which has discredited the politics in Kashmir. The demand for autonomy is our right. Look around the world and you will see different autonomy models in place that have effectively addressed the alienation of people. Welcoming Dr. Gagan Bhagat into National Conference on 20 December 2018 Farooq sahab announced that if the party is voted to power with an absolute majority, we will bring an autonomy resolution in the state assembly within a month: “I make a promise that within 30 days of being voted to power with absolute majority, we will bring the resolution for regional autonomy. It is a matter which is close to people’s heart. With almighty’s blessing, I am in good health and I will see it become a reality within my time.” But for realizing this dream we need the support of people. Previously when the autonomy resolution was passed, the then NDA government disliked it. Instead, they propped up a new political formation in the form of PDP to counter the NC and to sabotage any chances for autonomy to J&K. Our stand is clear. Kashmir is a political problem with economic dimensions. It is imperative to have dialogue with Hurriyat Conference and Pakistan for a lasting peace in the region.  

Dr. Bashir Ahmad Veeri is a former member of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council from National Conference. Views are personal

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