by Hamid Rather
Can Shah Faesal be a better alternative or a cliché addition to the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir? The politics of J&K is very peculiar because of the influence of external factors, conflict and its sceptical public opinion. Faesal’s joining politics has in fact created a discourse and raised both aspirations and apprehensions among the people, especially youth.
Faesal calls himself a ‘man of system’ and hence is more oriented towards governance. He seems aware of the insincerity of the government of India, towards Kashmir since 1947.
Unfortunately, there has been no comprehensive ‘Kashmir Policy’ comprising components dealing with Kashmir or insider elements and ‘Pakistan Policy’ component dealing with Pakistan or outsider elements.
The security apparatus is given a free hand in handling the security-related issues in the state and immunity from increased human rights violations. The increased hyper-nationalism, biased media coverage and the lack of political will to resolve Kashmir conflict have angered the people further. All these factors relegated mainstream body politic in Kashmir. Under such paradoxes, how Faesal is convinced that the existing Indian system has the strength to solve the problems that Jammu and Kashmir faces? Is Faesal being projected as a saviour for Kashmir with the veiled statist plans for the upcoming elections? How Faesal is viewing that in the contrasting ideologue and secessionist tendencies, separatists can be integrated in this existing system where suffocation in political ideas and actions are graver?
‘Autonomy’, ‘self-rule’ and ‘achievable nationhood’ being the ‘System’ solutions were rejected by the Government of India. So from this system, Faesal seems to be a ‘confused-ideal’ addition rather than a ‘pragmatic alternative’.
Will Faesal go with NC as speculated or can he be an alternative in consonance with the sweeping public opinion? Amidst the overwhelming mistrust against the existing political parties can visionary Faesal provide an alternative of the likes of Imran Khan and Arvind Kejriwal even if it takes time?
The fears of fracturing the mandate could be taken care of by emerging as a secular state-wide party representative of all the regions with members having the highest levels of integrity.
Different historiography of the three regions of the state, to a large extent, has remained a deterrent in the integration of Jammu and Kashmir. The unnatural demands like making Ladakh a UT, separate state for Jammu division, has been the offshoots of the ongoing political conflagrations and aspirations. The body politic has been encashing these factors for their political mileage. The emergence of a non-divisive political front propagating an ‘integrated and inclusive’ vision for all the three regions of the state with its drivers being the enlightened youth can evolve Faesal as an ‘alternate’ rather a mere ‘addition’.
Marginalisation in the state has been a slippery phenomenon. The victims of conflict like Kashmiri Pandits (KPs), rape-victims, families of forced disappeared persons, and others have emerged as new marginalised groups. The case study of marginalisation in Kashmir is the manifestation that wars render entire societies marginalised. Ironically, affirmative action for one marginalised group (KPs) and leaving others to the mercy of God is the state behaviour. When the existing political ideologues have not worked for the peaceful rehabilitation of KPs and ‘new marginalised’ groups and joining such establishments will be a mere cliché addition for idealistic Faesal. Opening a new front and giving all racial, religious and marginalized groups an equal space to compete for the political power can help Faesal to emerge as an ‘alternate’.
The pitfalls of the state system structures like unemployment, anger in youth, corruption, nepotism, prolonged Kashmir conflict, demand ‘system’ solutions. The wisdom does not lie in rejecting the traditional super-structure and adopting radical and revolutionary steps but in ‘scientific reform’ to solve them. The setting up of permanent structures for involving all the stakeholders in resolving the decades-old K-issue politically not only needs a political will but an exuberant personality of the likes of Faesal.
Corruption, nepotism and unemployment that have plagued the state are graver issues than militancy. It is cancer that is killing both the state and the people silently. The world is a witness that fights against corruption have led to regime changes. The emergence of Imran Khan to power in Pakistan is an emphatic triumph of a fight against corruption. Here again, Faesal can also choose to be an ‘alternate’ front with comrades of highest levels of integrity, honesty and ethics instead of resorting to an ‘addition’ by making small structural changes here and there in the existing parties which are the collaborators in the corruption menace.
Every age develops an organisation appropriate to its genus. It is high time that Faesal should set up a new and vibrant organisation to solve the peculiar problems of the state.
If he decides to choose to be an ‘alternate’ it will not be a distant dream of seeing ‘Naya J&K’ in full swing. No doubt he can become the CM of the state in future if he chooses to be an ‘addition’ but that will only be a replica of his predecessors who have lies, deceits, deception and blood in their hands. It is the call for Shah Faesal to make it big by choosing to be an ‘alternative’ than mere ‘addition’.
(Hamid Rather is author and journalist. The views expressed are personal.)