For a vast section of the population who see Jamaat as a redeemer of a nation lost to the cultural onslaught and aggrandisement of the situation that emerged after the partition, the book could be an eye-opener. Going through the pages of the book, it shocks to read that how a party with ‘la khaufun wala hum yahzanune’ (there is no fear nor any grief upon the friends of Allah) as its epitome is no different – it too swims and has swum with the tide. The 350-page book by a mysterious author suggests that the party has been fighting a raging battle within for a long time. While the party was collectively for ‘aqaamat-e-deen’, those led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani were consistently insisting that it would be an elusive goal as long as Kashmir as a political dispute does not see a resolution. Most of the details on this front, however, pertain to the last twenty years.
The author says the Jamaat inability to fill the vacuum created by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was one of its biggest failures. After 22 years of wilderness when Sheikh returned back to the legislature, it was Jamaat sitting in the same house. Even during the last two decades, the author tries to convey that the party lacked seriousness as far as its relationship with the militant movement goes. Initially, he says, they denounced militancy and later they were too close to it and finally when it started hitting they parted ways.
The book offers a peep inside the edifice of the party suggesting that people with larger than life images, squabble like kids busy in a game, in which everyone wants to lead the rest. It seems all about power and authority and least about ‘ta’awanu alal biri-wa-taqwa’.
The book glorifies Geelani, making him someone who can’t falter. He may be steadfast, uncompromising, and principled leader with perspective as the author is so keen to prove but he too had his moments of fallacy. From being kal ka MLA to failing in making Hurriyat a stronger platform, there are many issues that his antagonists would like to play against him.
But Geelani’s redemption came around when he refused to be part of ‘peace process’ initiated by Pakistani dictator General Parvez Musharaf and stuck to his guns when everyone fell in line. He stood alone, forsaken and betrayed. Such humiliation after adulation was enough to depress and disillusion anyone. But relentless Geelani stood rock solid and eventually was referred to the ‘last reference point on Kashmir’ even by his strong opponents. He was least bothered by what came from Wadera infested Islamabad establishment. He termed the process ‘fruitless’ and so far he is vindicated as nothing much has moved and the two sides have apparently not given up their stated positions despite a slow-motion process underway.
The book offers enough of documentary evidence, mostly communications, between the Jamaat leadership and Geelani that was taking place when the space for Geelani had shrunken enough. He was feeling choked in Hurriyat and was not positively being responded by his parent organization. Then, Geelani was on the wrong side of the list of Islamabad and the West as well.
To this text, however, the author offers his own context. It is this quasi-biographic history that could trigger a counter-point. But the crucial stage about which the story goes would require a professional researcher to work because there are countless pieces of evidence that need to be collected orally as they are not available in black and white.