Books

A Book with Insight into Kashmiri problems

Original_mg-book-kashmir-truth
Book: Kashmir: The undeniable Truth - A Social and Political Analysis of Kashmir
Author: Hashim Qureshi
Publisher: Iqra Publications, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India
Year of Publication: 2010
Price: Rs 350; Pages: 352+16 plates

In Kashmir, sentiments of Azadi and resistance have always been an inseparable part of the people's struggle, but the forces of resistance have failed to evolve and articulate their version of history. Hence we either have a history which depicts a chain of events from the perspective of State or of those who are at the helm of affairs. In the process, peoples history of resistance dies down unsung in oblivion.

Kashmiris may boast about the most ancient recorded history in the whole South Asia but they have failed to produce a historian of international repute who could pen down the political history of Kashmir since 1931. Regarding politicians who are the main players in the political life, whether mainstream or separatists, have failed to produce any documented proof of their politics, barring a few exceptions here and there. Very few politicians are there who write regularly on current issues, concerns and problems facing the common man.

Hashim Qureshi is one such soul whose articles keep appearing regularly in Urdu press on a wide range of issues from culture to civilization, politics to privatization, education to equality, justice to juvenile delinquency, transport to trees and Wazwan to water. The present book under review is a collection of his translated Urdu articles which were written from time to time and deal with a wide range of issues.

In his foreword to the collection, Maulana Ahmad Khizir, President of Tanzeem-e Ulama-e Hind deplores the dilemma being faced by a Kashmiri. He says, "Everyone is talking of a solution and resolution of this vexed problem but it is truly difficult in Kashmir to call a spade a spade. If you dare to become honest and speak truth, you will be labelled either Indian agent or Pakistani agent and you are no more Kashmiri, resulting in the causality of truth and facts".

The loyalty of Kashmiris is always suspect in the eyes of both India and Pakistan and even Sardar Qayyum of Muslim Conference, Azad Kashmir said, "Maqbool Bhat was an agent of India. When India, did not need him, they executed him". (p. 124). Hashim himself is a victim of this dichotomy which is replete in his book at various occasions.

In his long introduction to the collection, Hashim takes cue on a variety of issues from the Muslim history to the current world scenario.

Debating the reason and faith in the Muslim world, Hashim writes "Ghazali, the traditionalist, wrote Tahafut al-Falasifa in which he strongly underrated those who called logic the mother of all sciences. Thus from 12th century A.D onwards, feudalism and orthodoxy became complementary to each other, establishing inseparability of religion and politics for the inheritors of Caliphate. This marked the beginning of the decline of the age of reason in Islamic societies, belief and tradition arched over the institutions of Islamic State". (p. 13). But the Muslim world was so vibrant and intellectually rich that Ibn Rushd wrote Ghazali's critique as Tahafut al-Tahafut. It is no true that Ghazali was responsible for the decline of reason in the Muslim world.  Hashim Qureshi must read Dr Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi's paper, "Ghazzali & Revival of Islamic Sciences" to correct this orientalist myth.

Coming back to this debate, Hashim goes on to say, "A major part of the struggle lies within the broad Islamic fold itself. It is the revival of the long drawn struggle between the istidlaliyoon and muttakallimoon of 12th century in its new avatar of "pure" and "counterfeit" Islam. Taliban and Al Qaeda are also the product of same thinking. They are spokespersons of orthodox Islam. Thus entire Islamic polity has become a victim of dissensions, strife and differences". (p. 14).

Hashim unnecessarily drags the mutakallimoon and istadlaliyoon in the discussion as these haven't given rise to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, but the dragon seeds sown by Uncle Sam during the Cold War when USSR invaded Afghanistan. The violent, exclusivist staple diet of Islam fed to those cadres at the CIA-run madrasas on the Pak-Afghan borders was prepared in the University of Nebraska on the orders of the American government. And now when they have served their purpose, these yesterday's heroes have became today's terrorists.

Hashim strongly criticizes the upholders of political Islam and appreciating secular India, writes "Islam has tremendous capacity of accommodation and adjustment. Its ethos has also the quality of adaptability. Political Islam has, over the centuries, taken a heavy toll of our progress. The instruments that assist political Islam have to be blunted and replaced by reforms that harmonizes tradition with modernity. The example of India in this respect is appreciable because she is trying to harmonize extremist elements of many faiths with national imperatives. Some stray events such as in Gujarat, Orissa and Karnataka may induce us to think that India is a non-secular state, but this all is a temporary situation which melts with time". (p.  22).

Hashim to some extent is factual about political Islam but surmising that the temporary situation in India will melt away with time seems quite exaggerated. The state and sections of population and polity seem to be growing extremely intolerant and rights of people are being trampled under extremists' jackboots. Hindutva and fascist communalism haven't receded but are fast spreading their tentacles. Even if Globalization, Liberalization and Privatization will make these challenges wither away, yet the economic disparity which fuels Naxalism will remain and grow stronger resulting in grave, severe and hostile consequences for whole of India.

Hashim Qureshi is of the Ganga plane hijacking fame. In its aftermath, he was sent to prison in Pakistan where he spent many years. Commenting on his return to Kashmir, he says "Thirty years of exile had begun to freeze my blood in my veins. One's native land and family members and relatives are a big boon. They may be people of different temperaments. That does not matter. They have an identity. In a foreign country one is lost as a stranger. The land which contains the graves of one's ancestors has some rights and the natives of the land have some duty. I have come to repay the debt of my motherland. I want to share the pain and pleasure with my people. I want to understand their troubles and travails. It is the 21st century but our condition is akin to what prevailed in 12th century. This pain and this suffering induced me to return to my land. I want to serve my people and rest in my own land". (p. 220).

Hashim is progressive in his views and wishes his people to benefit from modernity, education and technological progress but is disheartened to find hypocrisy among people, apathy of the administration and government plus exploitation by leaders of every shade of opinion. Hashim isn't cowed down. He carries his efforts of awakening without rest. He has the wit and spine to take a stand against the politicians, because he himself is active in politics, though rarely politicians find time and courage to give vent to peoples feelings and concerns..

Coming down heavily on the land grabbing mafias, timber smugglers and those polluting the water bodies with impunity as all of them enjoy the patronage of ruling cliques, he says, "It has become the practice of National Conference to grab custodian, state and nazul lands and allot contracts to their relatives and friends and solve their personal problems". (p. 107).

Hashim is concerned about Roti, Kapda and Makaan problems of the people but is displeased at their pathetic attitude and cautions them saying, "The unfortunate thing is that whenever people come on streets to protest against non-availability of electric power or firewood or against unemployment or police excesses, they do not strictly restrict themselves to these problems. Some elements within the protesting crowd stick out their necks and raise slogans such as, "What do we want: Pakistan or What do we want: Azadi," thereby inviting official machinery to perpetrate excesses and high handedness. The real problems, for which people had come out on the streets to protest, get submerged in these slogans". (p. 23).

Here Hashim fails to understand that the sentiment for Azadi is embedded in the collective conscience of Kashmiris and they articulate it whenever they are vocal. They consider Azadi the real goal to be achieved, whose realization would make these small issues of governance vanish in thin air.

Hashim comes down heavily against those who brand themselves as separatists. He bases his criticism and anger on brutally honest facts. Hashim is of the opinion that separatists have no progressive programme for achieving Azadi: "Today when the days of gun wielding are gone, these separatists parties have virtually no programme to pursue that would drag the people out of morass of destitution. They just wait to see that a Kashmiri is martyred somewhere and his blood spills over the earth or where human rights are violated so that they would assemble a small or big crowd to deliver a speech and get their photographs clicked. They have no plan of how to accede to Pakistan or how to be practical in winning freedom, what is the methodology, what is the programme and how the people are to be dragged into this resistance movement? Obviously, they have no programme whatsoever?" (p. 229).

Hashim describes Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as a puppet of Pakistan who has no stance or ideology of his own and changes his colour every season: "Miwaiz should know that he has no stand of his own whatsoever. Whenever he received a telephonic call from Pakistan, some people and parties from his group were shifted to Geelani-led Hurriyat. When need arose, they were shifted back to Mirwaiz faction by a simple telephone from Islamabad. Mirwaiz's stand on Kashmir is essentially the stand of Pakistani military regime. His group works as spokesperson of that regime in Kashmir". (pp. 104f).

 Hashim speaks about the plight of common man in the power politics and gimmicks, as the separatists have made no institutions which could support the families of the victims who suffered at the hands of the State and are still facing the wrath of the State while seeking a job or obtaining a passport. They are at the dead end, though Hashim has started an institution called "Maqbool National Welfare Association" which caters to the needs of widows and orphans and runs some vocational centres for women.

Coming to the vexed question of Kashmir, Hashim is for an indigenous solution of the  problem which must be generated within, not imposed from above. He wants the leadership and people to be self-reliant and independent instead of pinning their hopes on Uncle Sam or the Muslim World: "Is this very America going to solve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan? Will those who project themselves as leaders of Kashmiri people, and under the pretext of medical treatment for headache, enjoy trips to the US and meet with the PRO in the State Department, whom anybody can meet at any time, come back and befool their compatriots by conveying to them "the good news of American support" to the Kashmir cause, be able to solve the Kashmir issue? What concrete steps did the US or the OIC take till date to redeem the problems of Kashmiris? Far from solving the Palestinian question, OIC could not muster support for Hizbullah against the attack of Israel". (p. 70).

Hashim offers a novel and innovative roadmap for separatists, i.e., of participation in elections and then resigning, thus achieving freedom (p. 135), and "I may mention when the oppressed and the enslaved people of the world were engaged in earning their freedom at the point of gun in 1970s, the people of Kashmir including some from among the separatists were fighting elections. But when in 1990s most of the enslaved peoples of the world were engaged in winning their rights through elections, the people of Kashmir took up the gun. Today the exploitative systems in Ireland, Kosovo and Nepal are crumbling under the pressure of elections; the stalwarts of Kashmir freedom and independence are shunning elections. Are we not sidelining ourselves from the ways and methods of the people of the world? Are we not misleading our nation? Are we not confining ourselves to our four walls? Who should reply these questions?" (pp. 168f).

It is a fact that Centre can never afford democracy, free and fair elections in Kashmir and the last 63 years bears a testimony to the same fact and even if separatists win elections, they can't pass the 'unconstitutional' resolution on Kashmir. The fate of Autonomy report is a witness to the same. The fact is that the Centre uses elections to discredit the separatists, hence elections under India regime aren't possible as well as feasible.

Overall, the book is thought-provoking and covers the social, economic, political, environmental and educational problems, issues and concerns of contemporary nature and is a laudable read. Hashim is among the rare breed of Kashmiri politicians who write regularly.
 
 Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar
 
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This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2012 on page no. 21

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