Peoples Conference Chairman Sajad Lone tells Junaid Nabi Bazaz that his party will enter into the J&K legislature after 2014 Assembly Elections and that the time of resolving Kashmir with gun or through agitations has passed.
SL: I did not jump into politics as I was already into it and my way of being in it was as a writer. I used to write for many national dailies of both Pakistan and India. When I was made Chairman of Peoples Conference, I was not even aware of it. I came to know about it through newspapers. At that time it was an emotive moment as my father was assassinated and I felt that it would be chicken heartedness if I run away.
KL: What made you jump into mainstream from separatist camp?
SL: My ideology is even same today. I just felt that boycott is creating a political space for National Conference and PDP. These were the families who sided with the oppressor in nineties. It is big political mistake to allow them political space. In my humble capacity, I thought let me at least challenge them and not allow them to occupy the entire space.
KL: Then why didn’t you choose mainstream from the beginning? You were part of Hurriyat.
SL: Well, if I make a mistake once in my life, am I committed making that mistake for the rest of my life?
KL: Do you regret the decision of entering politics?
SL: (Pauses) No, I don’t. (Pauses again) I really don’t regret joining politics. I still believe that I can contribute and make a change.
KL: Was joining Hurriyat a mistake?
SL: Yes, I say it was a mistake today. Not fighting and boycotting elections in Hurriyat was a mistake. In 1989 if we would not have boycotted, there would have been no NC and no PDP. Now a nationalist part like Congress is in Kashmir. That should be a shame for all those people who think boycott was a good stand.
KL: Your politics is against the constitution of Hurriyat of which you were once a part?
SL: No constitution is sacred. It is not the word of God which cannot be changed. Constitution is written by people that can be amended any time. What is so sacred about this blxxxy Hurriyat constitution? What nonsense is this?
KL: In 2002 General Assembly elections, many Hurriyat leaders blamed you for contesting election through proxy candidates. You had said that you had no intentions of contesting. But later they were proved right?
SL: Let me make it very clear. Either there is a problem in communication or people make sweet pleasure in misreporting. I never said I will never contest elections in my life. If you have any video proof, I am ready to render apologies. Time has proven that if I have to contest election, I am not scared of anybody. If I could contest in 2009, I could have fought that time also. I had no proxies. I fought just because I thought that time has come to fight, that we have exhausted all our options and there is a need to find other ways to amplify our voices.
KL: Your father Abdul Gani Lone also fought elections in the beginning but after 1987 elections were rigged, he boycotted them. Till his death, he never fought elections. Now you are fighting election. Are you straying from his political ways?
SL: First, if rigging of elections will happen again, I am not going to stop contesting elections. Second, I am not negating my father. Let me tell you that Lone sahab never thought he was a God nor do I think that. What my father was doing that time was right and what I am doing now is also right. Time is not static. We live in a dynamic environment where conditions change.
KL: You have been talking about change. What change do you want to bring?
SL: I am talking of change from traditionalism. Kashmir has been under the rule of families. There is Mufti family, there is Abdullah family. Mufti sahab as a Congressman, as a Janta Dal man, then Congressman again and then PDP man has been at the helm of affairs in power either in the state or at the centre. Abdullahs have been in power since 1975. These representative traditional families rather than representing Kashmir at Delhi represent Delhi in Kashmir. We need to change that. I would like people to have full economic freedom. That is how Kashmiris are being controlled politically. If a Kashmir will be economically free, its people will be able to take a free political decision. That is my concept of change.
KL: Kashmir dispute is lingering from many decades now and almost all the weapons have failed to resolve it. What is the way forward?
SL: I honestly still say that between everything and nothing. Kashmiris should settle for something. It is incremental process, nothing will happen overtime. If we are having two options, either everything or nothing, then we are going to get nothing. First we have to break the status quo and take something from New Delhi. Resolving it through gun or agitations has gone now. We need to think over it more politically.
KL: According to United Nations (UN) resolutions, if some day people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)) get a chance to decide their future through plebiscite, which country (India or Pakistan) would you like to join? Why?
SL: I like J&K to be independent. UN resolutions are just hypothetical. In case if I get that chance, today’s Pakistan will be no way. With India, there will be dignified coexistence and that needs statesmanship from both India and Kashmiri leadership.
KL: In case you lose 2014 elections, experts say it would be your political death. What have you decided to do after that?
SL: First I am not going to lose. It is in Kashmir that there are some great experts who believe if a politician loses once, he loses every time. Somehow I do not know how they qualify to be experts. What nonsense is this? I would like to see these experts.
KL: After your father’s death, you claimed that you will name his killers. More than ten years have passed but you are yet to name them?
SL: I will name father’s killers before my death.