Published On: Mon, Apr 14th, 2014

‘For the sake of our children’

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

At a time when common man and woman (youth in particular) in India are in the process of electing their representatives, leaders in the Valley have a ‘for’ and ‘against’ narrative in taking part or boycotting these elections.  A boycott or the exercise of none of the above (NOTA) may make a sense in the Valley and taking into account the previous elections has its own risks. The boycott appeal would not carry any merit outside the Valley.

Common man and woman have known it from the highest forum of the present day world, that is, United Nations that elections are not a substitute for self-determination in resolving the Kashmir dispute. These people also know that United Nations has cautioned the J & K Assembly that it is elected only from a part of the territory of J & K as defined in article 4 of the Constitution and as such is not fully representative. Article 48 of the J & K Constitution seals the debate and makes the assembly infirm and incomplete in taking decision of this nature. Therefore, common man and woman may not see any danger in electing his or her representative for the Indian Parliament.

A Kashmiri boycott reduced to the Valley or poorly prosecuted would not in any manner impact the character of Indian Parliament unless common man and woman in India join in to consider the reasons of Kashmiri boycott. An unimpressive boycott would not help Pakistan or the world community to query the merits of an elected Indian Parliament. Pro boycott leadership over the years has been making news out of misery or deaths and has failed to consider that the practice is annoying, exploitative and insufficient for the character of the Kashmir dispute.

The boycott could have made a sense and may have carried a force if all these political variables, namely the three Hurriyats (G, M and JK) and JKLF had considered sitting together for a day in 365 days to be together in their boycott decision. Unfortunately, as my grandmother would say that a bull with large horns carries the earth on its shoulders and whenever out of tiredness he shakes his head, we observe an earthquake, our leaders have started believing that each of them individually carries the Kashmir dispute on his shoulders.

I did not have enough understanding to challenge my grandmother over her exaggerated belief. In part out of ignorance and in part out of respect too. It is not so for Kashmiri leaders. We have travelled in time and ignorance is disappearing and the element of respect is split into many variables. The common man and woman in the Valley at least have never disappointed their leadership, when an approach has been made on merit.

Without prejudice to the pro-boycott demand and tethering ones political belief to the day of election only, there has been a wise move made by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. His open letter addressed to the people of India conforms to the science of modern politics of reaching out and building the constituency of support. Hurriyat (M) chairman has very rightly moved into the deep territories of Indian people who have the ability to determine the character of their next Parliament.

One could say that the move has the support of his own academic excellence and good advice from his team, in particular the Political Section. Abdul Majid Banday Political Advisor APHC is a trained lawyer, has managed the first Kashmiri Embassy in Delhi (Kashmir Awareness Bureau) and has the exposure of early and most difficult days of diplomacy at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva as the representative of united APHC. The Kashmiri narrative at the UN in Geneva was accredited with quality and dignity at that time. He is lucky to have retained the support of some lead founders of the APHC.

Mirwaiz seems to be exacting the best from his team and seems to look into tomorrow – there are many tomorrows. Mirwaiz remains fully aware of the behaviour of international forums, like UN General Assembly, Islamic Summit and UN Human Rights Commission (now Human Rights Council). He has been to Casablanca, New York and Geneva. The feel at these places and the interaction does make a difference.

There could hardly be a man or woman or any member of a political party who is going to nudge pass and dismiss the Open Letter of Mirwaiz addressed to all in India. Mirwaiz has invited their attention to consider our (inclusive) duty to our children. His appeal, “For the sake of our children, we urgently need to resolve this dispute. Instead of a festering quagmire, we should hand over to our youth a chance to shape a peaceful, hopeful and prosperous future — for all parties concerned — for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, India, and Pakistan. We believe that every party must put forward serious efforts to resolve the conflict.” A common Indian has a natural cause to address in regard to the future of all children. The world at large has no dispute to work for the future generations and child is the future of mankind.

The appeal has been skilfully woven to highlight a common duty towards peace and towards removing barriers placed in the path of peace.  The jurisprudence of the Rights Movement in Kashmir has been preserved. Mirwaiz has added, “For peace, many barriers and obstacles will have to be overcome. Furthermore, any lasting solution must be a just one, and that necessarily means recognising and upholding the Kashmiri people’s aspirations and right to self-determination.”

Mirwaiz has made a compelling case for the Indian people and has sought their favour.  He has added, “In this regard, we are seeking only what is due to the people of Jammu and Kashmir as a matter of legal, moral, and historical right. The solution will have to be acceptable to all parties – India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” It is probably for the first time that an out of date routine of politics has been set aside and Kashmiri leadership has recognised the importance of Indian people in the resolution of Kashmir case.

In fact the common man and woman in India have been shaken into a sense of responsibility in regard to the collective character of elected Indian leadership. Mirwaiz has alerted the Indian public that, “Ultimately, the direction that the next elected leadership of India will take vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue largely depends on all of you — the people of India — and on how effectively you can influence and support your political leaders to do what is both possible and necessary for peace.”

It is encouraging to find that Valley politics has started freeing itself from the manner of a ‘one man show’ and is moving towards collectivism. The characteristics of a letter-head only party, mobile and a laptop are yielding to a more enduring politics, with a proper office, proper constitution, proper Executive, Phone and Fax and a political narrative developed in reference to the people. A politics that has regular internal debates and accepts non-party independent outside inputs is on the build. Hurriyat (M) seems to have its hand on the handle.  Other political groups have no choice but to follow the example.

The letter addressed to Indian public carries the character and dignity of Kashmir argument. The effort in itself overrides the barriers of selective contacts (all leaders have) and moves into a bigger space. In fact Mirwaiz has moved his case to the Peoples Court in India and it is a commendable effort.  He has summed up his case highlighting the choices available, “In this regard, there are two clear paths ahead, each with very different outcomes. Your newly elected representatives (those in power and those in opposition) could collectively resolve to take a bold and visionary break from the past and could work together to pursue a serious political and diplomatic effort to resolve the Kashmir issue. Alternatively, they could relinquish their collective leadership responsibilities and choose to follow the same old default policy approach that has allowed the Kashmir issue to fester for more than six decades now, placing the region on the dangerous trajectory that it is currently heading towards. Ultimately, the direction that the next elected leadership of India will take vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue largely depends on all of you — the people of India — and on how effectively you can influence and support your political leaders to do what is both possible and necessary for peace.”

Mirwaiz in effect is urging upon the common man and woman in India that they would be responsible in influencing their leaders and has very rightly taken into account the elected representatives – those who form the Government and those who remain in the Opposition. He has rest his case asking them to address all that is “possible” and “necessary” for “peace”. There could be hardly a better end to a written appeal to the Indian people than Mirwaiz’s conclusion, “There must be a serious, result-oriented and time-bound process of dialogue between the leadership of India and Pakistan, and of Jammu and Kashmir.”

We all join Mirwaiz in asking the Indian public, “In this direction, it is our sincere hope that you will raise your voices. You must press the elected leadership to rise above domestic politics and work towards India’s strategic and moral interests. Through your resounding support for safeguarding India’s interests in peace, prosperity and security and through your vocal support for justice, you can make a real impact.”

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