"To solve our most difficult problem, we must radically change our thinking"
– Stephen Covey
Omar Abdullah, the working President of National Conference has responded to the current unprecedented unrest in Kashmir by submitting a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on July 24th 2016, which was published in Greater Kashmir on 26th July 2016. The memorandum has been concluded, I quote : "National Conference wants to express its gratitude to the Honourable Prime Minister and the Honourable Home Minister for promptly responding to NC working president Mr. Omer Abdullah's appeal to send eye-specialists to the valley to deal with hundreds of cases where young men and women have sustained potentially handicapping, lethal injuries due to the unrestricted and wanton use of pellet guns on protesters". The memorandum instead of being "Kashmir Centric" is full of complaints about Mehbooba Mufti's failure of dealing with the situation in the aftermath of Burhan Wani's killing, as a result of, contradictions between senior PDP leaders, holding belated all party meeting, unprecedented clamp down of mobile / internet services, and imposition of crack down on local newspapers. To normalize the situation in the valley, to dispense justice and to ensure such situations do not arise in future, Omer Abdullah has made eight point chatter of demands, of which seven are regarding holding judicial probes, in the matters of State government's mishandling the situations, use of excessive force, banning of Mobile / Internet services, newspapers and use of pellet guns, the non lethal weapons. The memorandum casually mentions that the Union Government should initiate a sustained dialogue process with Pakistan as well as internal stakeholders including the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference and other groups in the valley with an aim to evolve a consensus towards a mutually acceptable solution to the political issue.
The Kashmir conflict is as old as the "Conditional Accession", which Maharaja Hari Singh signed with Union of India on 26th Oct 1947. The National Conference and the Sheikh Dynasty has a "Choli Daman ka Sath" with the Kashmir conflict, as they have been a part of it, though always claiming to be part of solution demanding Plebiscite, Aazadi, and Autonomy right from Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to Omer Abdullah. Omer Abdullah for the first time, had made a positive and a good impression among the people of Kashmir when in march 2006, much to the disapproval of Delhi, had a one-on-one meeting with Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharaf, in Islamabad thereby re-enforcing his grandfathers commitment to find the solution of the Kashmir problem one day. Omer then received a rousing reception by thousands of Kashmiris upon his return, as it reminded them of May 1964, when Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah who was on plebiscite demand visited Pakistan to meet General Ayub Khan, the then President of Pakistan for the same cause. Again on the occasion of inauguration of new train service at Wanpoh (Anantnag) on 28th October 2009 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Omar Abdullah was bold to state that economic packages cannot be substitute for political resolution of Kashmir issue and Kashmir needs to be relieved from shadow of gun. These gesture of Omer Abdullah raised high hopes for better political future of state. In the scheme of things of National Conference, granting of Autonomy is only solution of Kashmir problem. But Omer Abdullah has remained silent in the memorandum regarding, the rejection of Autonomy resolution passed on 27th June 2000, by Vajpayee Government, recommendations of the working group headed by Justice Sageer regarding restoration of Internal Autonomy and also the recommendations of Interlocutors headed by Dileep Padgaonkar for setting up constitutional committee to review all acts and Articles of the constitution of India extended to Jammu & Kashmir. During his six years rule Omar has failed to pursue these initiatives of Govt. of India and take a stand for implementation of these recommendations which at least to his understanding could have made some head way in political resolution of Kashmir problem.
The present unrest which has claimed fifty lives, more than three thousand injured and 150 having lost their eye sight, has invited a positive reaction all over the world particularly from the people and the leadership of India. For the first time in the history of India that people cutting across party lines, religion, caste and creed have been impressing upon the Modi Government to find the permanent solution of Kashmir imbroglio. Senior Congress leader and former Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said "the genesis of the current Kashmir unrest lies in "broken promises and broken faith", and India has ignored the grand bargain under which Jammu & Kashmir acceded to India. The former Indian Interlocutor Professor Radha Kumar said that "India is left out no option except resolving long pending Kashmir issue once for all". Sugata Bose a renowned South Asian Historian, presently Member Parliament of Trinamool Congress, in the Parliament said "India need to work on Ireland model for an autonomous Kashmir". The former bureaucrat and the member of think tank on Kashmir Wajahat Habibullah said, "India has betrayed the people of Kashmir". While the pressure is building up both in India and abroad for resolution of Kashmir issue, the NC leader Omer Abdullah in the memorandum having remained "Mufti Centric" instead of "Kashmir Centric" is unfortunate. The apologetic memorandum speaks more than what can be read :"Sir, : "Hum bina tunkha kay khidmat kernay kay lia tayaar hay".
Ab Qayoom Khan (IFS) Rtd., is member All India Muslim Majlis – e – Mushawarat, New Delhi