It may sound trite. Nevertheless, history testifies it is a harsh reality. Kashmir has been a graveyard of reputations. For seventy years, it has seen many towering leaders of India, those know as 'messengers of non-violence' and third world "statesmen" crumbling down from their cliffs of a reputation for their dubious role and double standards in dealing with Kashmir. One is reminded of this on reading Dr. Javid Iqbal's new book 'Profiles and Pen Portraits- Kashmir Sub-Continent and beyond.
Dr. Javid is one of our versatile columnists and writers, who has been writing with absolute ease on a broad range of subjects, from the ping -pong game to the ping-pong diplomacy and drawing pen portraits of thespians of the Bollywood, Lollywood, and Hollywood with ease of a painter's brush. He has been profiling life and achievements of songsters and singers. From the street politics to the rocket science, he has been writing about everything. Of course, it is not everybody's cup of tea.
His new book an anthology of a biographical sketch, odes to the legends like Dilip Kumar and Begum Akhtar and book reviews of the book as fifteen books on the various subject from poetic collections to political writings also stands as testimony lives up to his versatility as a writer. Talking about every issue contained 324 pages book published by Gulshan Books will be as difficult as writing about every god in the Roman pantheon. However, in this column, I will be dwelling on some biographical sketches of men who shaped the destiny of the sub-continent and equally those who authored our predicament.
Thinking, about commenting on pen portraits of some of the leaders contained in the book my thoughts oscillated between a quote from Milan Kundera, essay, 'Testaments Betrayed: An Essay in Nine Parts' and writings of a host of Palestine writers and poets whose work did send shivers down the spine of the Zionists. The works of writers and poets like Samih al-Qaseem, Salim Jubran, Tawaq Zaid, Mahmood Darwish and Fawad Tuqan not only strengthened the belief of the Palestinians incarcerated in an Israeli prison in their cause but also caused inspired the younger generation. One of the dreaded 'Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Dayan after reading one of the poems by the Nablus poet Fawad Tuqan is believed to have exclaimed: This is equal to twenty commandos.' The admitted fact is that writers and poets of our generation for fear in their mind are yet to produce such a great literature. Nevertheless, the new generation of writers and journalists of our land that were born or grew up during the 1990s turbulent period of our history are certainly going to tear open the shell of timidity that we the oldies are still caught up.
The difficult task that the author has undertaken is writing about the life and politics of some of the most influential leaders of the Sub-Continent. No one can have the claim of summing up the life, ideology, and politics of different leaders like Gandhi and Nehru or Iqbal in an article or two. As Milan Kundra rightly says, "Not everything written on Kafka is Kafkology." So could be true about Iqbal, Jinnah or Gandhi or Nehru.
The primary focus of the author in the book is Allama Mohammad Iqbal. It contains ten articles covering ten different facets of Iqbal's life and literature. There are nine write ups on Quaid Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding of father of Pakistan and also three papers on the father of Indian nation, Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi, four on Jawaharlal Nehru and two on Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. All the five have got intricately woven in the contemporary Kashmir narrative, some far their benediction s and arduously working for mitigating the sufferings of Kashmiris and some for their wicked and dubious role in adding to our predicament- that has been inflicting pain on us generation after generation.
For some scholarly articles, the section on Allama Iqbal is an important part of the book. Iqbal, from the early twentieth century, has been one of the protagonists in our struggle for emancipation. He did not only articulate the pain and agony of his ancestral land through poetry also emerged as the first major ambassador of Kashmir to the outside world. His speeches at various meetings and conventions of the All India Muslims League made Kashmir a part of people's discourse of the British India.
Few scores of biographies have been written on M.A. Jinnah from historians as varied as Hector Bolitho, Stanley Wolpert, Roderick Mathew, Akbar S Ahmed and Ayesha Jalal and as diverse Indian politicians as Rafiq Zakaria to Jaswant Singh. Sadly, none of them have written in detail about his Kashmir connection. Dr. Javid Iqbal could have filled this gap, but he has also chosen to write on subjects that have already much talked.
In the Nehru Gandhi's section, in one of the chapters, K Issue Nehru's gift to India, the author has analyzed Nehru's dubious role in the birth of the Kashmir Dispute. In writing about the theatrics performed by Jawaharlal Nehru before Lord Mountbatten for Kashmir annexed to India the author very subtly has brought down him from the ladder of "statesmanship" to a man who had mastered the cheap Machiavellian tactics. Earlier to October 27, 1947, when Indian troops landed in Kashmir. "Nehru sent Kashmiri Pandit Hiralal Atal to launch secret operations in Kashmir, including trying to bomb several bridges over the Jhelum River." The apostle of non-violence also failed on the touchstone of Kashmir. In prayer meeting on one day, he said, 'People of Kashmir should be left free to decide for themselves. If they want to opt for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing'. Then a complete U-turn he consented for sending Indian Army into Kashmir. And said, 'job of armed forces is to march ahead.'
The books like written by Dr. Javid Iqbal do provide key holes to peep into the history of the Kashmir Problem. Nevertheless, there is a need for doing an in-depth research for writing a bold and authoritative book on the Kashmir Problem.