How A Speech Triggered A Political Storm?


SRINAGAR: The virtual world has been taken by the storm since Friday over the statement of Jammu and Kashmir’s Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu.

J&K Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu speaking to diplomats and investors at a PHD Chamber event on March 9, 2018

As reported by the Delhi based news agency PTI, Dr Drabu was quoted to have said during an event in New Delhi “J&K should not be seen as a political issue.”

Caught in the quagmire of accusations by both unionist and separatist parties, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), of which Dr Drabu is a senior leader, while asking the party men to “careful in their statements and observations while commenting on the basic political philosophy and core agenda of the party”, asked Dr Drabu to “retract the statement.”

Not happy over the observations made by the man trusted by PPD founder Mufti Muhammad Sayeed to stitch an alliance with Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), PDP’s senior vice president Sartaj Madni in a statement reiterated the party stand that “PDP feels highly perturbed at the obvious lack of urgency in resolving this issue and reiterates its commitment to uphold Party’s stated objectives in which the resolution of the political issue has a paramount importance.”

Taking a step further, the party issued show cause notice asking Dr Drabu to explain the statement.

“The statement attributed to you about the nature of the problem of Jammu & Kashmir has been reported in the newspapers for last two days in which you are reported to have said that J&K is not a political problem but involves only social issues.

“As you are aware this contradicts this very belief and core agenda of the party which you reportedly said at the highest level,” said the disciplinary committee chairman Abdul Rehman Veeri, who is also the senior most member of PDP and a cabinet minister of BJPDP coalition.

But the urgency in defending the party stand led to more chaos.

On Sunday evening at 7:23 Pm, PDP released the full speech of Dr Drabu which he delivered at the annual “Ambassadors’ Meet” organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry on March 9, 2018 and even said that the “report has been reported out of context by Delhi-based Wire Service Press Trust of India (PTI)”. The next press release of the party at around 8:38 PM, suggested to “withdraw” the earlier released statement of speech.

However, this all happened in reaction to the accusations, a middle rung party leader told Kashmir Life, adding, “nobody asked the man who actually had spoken about the issue.”

“The opposition set the ball rolling with help of the netizens who picked selected line to prove their point and corner him. Unfortunate even the party did not seek response before criticizing him on the issue,” he said, wishing not to be named.

However, Sajad Lone, a minister in the cabinet led by Mehbooba Mufti came in support of Dr Drabu and said that the speech has been brutally quoted out of context and expressed concern about the way it was reported.

Diplomats invited to a Kashmir related event in Delhi on March 9 by PHD Chmaber

“The speech of my colleague and friend @haseebDrabu brutally quoted out of context. In wonderment how our journalists report. @JKNC out with knives could be victims of the same brutal reportage. Grandstanding will only encourage this menace,” he wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.

In another tweet, he wrote “Kashmir issue is a sum of many parts. That I believe is the crux of what @HaseebDrabu expressed in his speech. This is after reading the speech that he delivered.”

The statement which evoked controversy was delivered at an event themed ‘Kashmir: The Way Forward’. Among the other speakers were education minister Syed Altaf Bukhari and minister for sports Molvi Imran Ansari.

Speaking during the event attended by around 130 ambassadors, government officials and business leaders, Drabu had discussed many facets of Kashmir issue.

The party withdrew the text of the speech. By then, however, it was all over as it had been shared on social media.

He started his speech by thanking the  PHD chambers for organizing this event and said that “for a seventy-year-old issue, I have been given 15 minutes to expound on the way ahead!”

Emphasizing on the motto of PHD Chambers, the organizers of the event, of “Progress, Harmony, and Development,” he had said, these three words represent the way ahead, vision and aspiration for Kashmir.

Urging the participants to have interest in Kashmir and its people, and their lives, Drabu had said: “For, Kashmir is not just a political problem, but a social issue. Our society has been ravaged and we need to address that first. It is in this we seek your help.”

Terming the dialogue as the first thing to achieve the desired results, Dr Drabu told the delegates that “In my opinion, to achieve the desired way ahead, we need to do three things: First, Introspection by us, the people of Kashmir. We need to talk among ourselves before we talk to others. Second, Interaction between people and not just between and with governments. In the language of the information technology, not just do G2G but B2C and C2C!”

While referring to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, he said, “Indeed, the Chief Minister in one of her media interactions at Express Adda articulated the importance of civil society interactions. When asked about the appointment of the interlocutor by the Union government, she welcomed it, adding that “every visitor, every tourist to the state plays his/her role as an interlocutor”.

The PHD Chamber hosts one of its Signature Event for the International Community

Assuring the business tycoons to come and invest in the state, “Inclusion; inclusion as a part of the national and global development not as an aberration or a deviation but as a place of promise and prospect. As one of my colleagues once said, “People often make the mistake of thinking that the world is a part of Kashmir; the fact is that Kashmir is and must be seen as a part of the World.”

In his speech, Dr Drabu advocated to lift the advisories and said they act as a “social boycott” and prevent the resolution of the political issue. “The travel advisories of various countries effectively function as the social boycott. It prevents us from being a part of the World build capacities to deal with political and other attendant issues.

Making it clear to the audience that the aspirations of Kashmiris are not wrong nor are the anxieties misplaced, he said that actually there is “disconnect between what we aspire for ourselves as individuals and what we aspire for ourselves as a community and a society.”

Comparing Kashmir with other places, Dr Drabu had told the gathering that “due to the kind of a socio-economic system and the political context within which we operate, even roti, kapda, aur makaan” or “bijli, sadak, pani, otherwise entitlement of everybody become aspirations for the people of Kashmir.

Repeating what he had said many times, he told the delegates that “A job does not have to be “naukri” funded by the Government; a business does not have to be an enterprise s profitable because of a subsidy; a venture does not have to be successful on the back of tax and electricity concessions.”

Lamenting the fact that people in Kashmir have “lost comprehension to run their own affairs,” he said, “Why we are not able to do it today is because we have lost confidence in our capabilities; in our creativity, in our own comprehension to run our own affairs.”

Emphasizing that there is need to come out of being only “victims”, he said, “We now talk about ourselves in a way that portrays us, the “Kashmiris”, only as victims. This defensive attitude has made us incapable of thinking positively and acting honestly. Something good can come out of this paroxysm of grief and tragedy only if we, the people of Kashmir, reconsider what’s really relevant, and what is less so, in our life. Only if this is done can we emerge from the deep political and socio-economic crisis that pervades us.”

Making it clear to have a feeling of being ‘normal human being’ and not as ‘victims’, he said “We need to think of ourselves not as victims, but as normal human beings. We have and have had lives; unhappy and tortuous as these may be. We have a history; tormented as it may be. We have faces and names; sad as these may be. We have made ourselves into a story. We are not a story. Or even a series of endless stories. Worst is that and at some stage, this story of ours has got fictionalized. The result is that we are now living in fiction. We have to alter this.”

He said to adopt the latest methods, he said “Our society has to hear the yearning of the youth, the language of which is contemporary. In today’s globalised and integrated world our social idiom cannot be isolationist; nor can our methods be medieval.

Urging the business tycoons and industry leaders to come and see Kashmir beyond the conflict state, he told the gathering that “Kashmir is a society in turmoil which is trying to rediscover its moorings.”

“Don’t see Kashmir as a conflict state; it is not. See it as a society in turmoil and transition which is trying to rediscover its moorings. It is in this that interactions such as this one can help. I am very grateful to the PHD chambers for organizing this event and will go a long way in finding the way ahead.”

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