By Dr. K.N. Pandita
The hide and seek game between Ali Shah Geelani and the Indian state is a bizarre story of post-independence period. Never in history have we heard an ordinary citizen holding the entire state in a sort of siege and the law of the land becoming impotent to the hilt.
Ali Shah Geelani once fought elections to the state assembly and won. He had no difficulty in demonstrating allegiance to the Indian Constitution or the State Constitution. But then there was change of heart and he shifted to hard communal Pan-Islamic ideology.
Rise of militancy in Kashmir in 1990 became catalyst to his radical ideology and he found a new constituency for himself. Though he may not have been totally in favour of armed insurgency to the extent of terrorizing civil society in Kashmir, yet he found it expedient to stir the religious sentiments of the Muslim majority of Kashmir.
Ali Shah wants nothing short of Kashmir’s secession from the Indian Union and accession to Pakistan. His obsession is not based on any rationale but just Pakistan as if that is the land of honey and milk. He has never been able to justify his wishes for joining Pakistan as a matter of logic. If Islam is the only cementing force for the Muslim ummah, then there should have been only one and not 53 Muslim States in the world. Moreover, if that is the concept then seven million Kashmiri Muslims are part of 150 million Muslims of India.
Emboldened by blind following of a large section of people in Kashmir on religious count, he has been trying to portray himself larger than his profile.
There was a time when he fell foul with General Pervez Musharraf and said that Musharraf was not the beginning and end of Pakistan. But he never raised finger at Pakistani Army and ISI; he never criticized the military coup in that country; he never said a word against the abuse of Pakistani judiciary; he did not denounce the murder of BB and he never opposed Pakistan’s Kargil adventure. He never raised the question of armed Pakistani terrorist’s forcibly taking Kashmiri youth for recruitment to various terrorist organizations and he never condemned militants hurling grenades on innocent civilians in public places in Kashmir. He had all praise for Akbar Bhai, the Pakistani terrorist leader who had been operating in Sopor, Gilani’s hometown; and had many atrocities to his account.
All this speaks that Ali Shah is bound neither by the principles of mercy and kindness as enunciated in Islamic faith nor by his own conscience of discriminating virtue from vice.
For last two decades, his main contribution has been to give a call for strike, shut down business and cause immense damage to Kashmir economy. To him everything rotates round religion and that too a religion of his own interpretation. Because no learned and sensible Muslim intellectual in the valley stands up and challenges his methodology he is emboldened to carry out his diktat knowing full well that he is leading a pack of rabid zealots.
He is an enemy to everything Indian but he doest not disband his Indian security cover. He was ok with treatment by Indian physicians in Indian hospitals. His sons are well settled abroad and at home and on that count he has nothing to worry.
Nobody ever heard Ali Shah Geelani having a constructive plan for Kashmir if hypothetically Kashmir is cleared of Indian presence. What are his post-independence reconstruction plans? Is it nizam-e=Mustafa only/ If yes, which one, of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan? He abandons this mental exercise to Pakistan, the country to which he is ready to sell his soul.
Independent Kashmir is not his option nor does he believe in Kashmiriyat. All that he believes in is the Muslim ummah. But where is the ummah? Sunnis massacring Shias in Pakistan, Pakistani Army butchering Sunni and Shia alike in its war on terrorism, Baluchis dead set against Punjabis in Pakistan, Mohajirs at daggers drawn against the rest of the Pakistanis, and so forth and so on. Which ummah does Ali Shah want Kashmir to join? He is not clear and he cannot be because he refuses to understand either the human nature or the intricacies of socio-economic structures of societies.
One cannot but lament the apologetic and cowardly ineptitude of Indian rulers who are unable to wriggle out of the fetters which Ali Shah has thrown on their hands and feet. He is left to go on with his treasonable tirades against the nation and country. No anti-national activity law is enforced against him. He is not questioned for stirring religious sentiments of people, for inciting them against the state, for violating the law of the land.
This all is because the Indian state is bogged with vote bank syndrome. New Delhi is succumbing to blackmail because it is promoting it deliberately… It will not deal with these anti-national elements because the Indian leadership is devoid of the true concept of nationalism. What guides their lives and destiny is individualism and survivalism.
Ali Shah Geelani has no fear of being brought to book for his anti-national utterances and activates. The logic of not touching him till he runs out of steam is the logic of diseased mind. It is the logic of cowardice and inaction of which the Indian state has plenty to its credit.
Ali Shah met with Pervez Musharraf for full nine long hours discussing options on Kashmir. He would not budge from his stand that there was only one solution that of Kashmir joining Pakistan and getting absorbed into Punjab province. Exasperated Musharraf sent him home and never called him again for talks. Then Ali Shah went mad and publicly abused Pervez Musharraf. He was sized up.
On 24 June the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are meeting to prepare the ground for ministerial meet in July. Pakistani High commissioner in New Delhi invited APHC (M) chief Maulavi Omar but ignored Ali Shah. This explains that Pakistan attaches no importance to Ali Shah in the affairs of Kashmir.
But New Delhi does somersaults on slightest hint from Ali Shah. Imagine the difference in the real-politick of two countries. Ali Shah has held Indian state at ransom and New Delhi is happy with it. It has not the strength or confidence even to deal with paper tigers, leave actual tigers alone. This is just because there is a pack of incompetent and cowardly leaders who know only the art of counting faithfully each slap delivered on their cheeks by the adversary.
What hinders Indian government from making a bold statement that J&K is integral part of Indian Union and no power on earth can take it away? Great nations fight and win, they do not succumb, they do not believe in ahimsa parmo dharma.
I am reminded of Churchill’s prophetic words spoken in the British Parliament on the occasion of a crucial debate on Indian Independence Act. Referring to Indian leadership, he had said,” They are men of straw and after independence a man will be killed for a bottle of water.” How prophetic? We are led by men of straw. Will a Shiva ji, an Abraham Lincoln or a Count Cavour rise from the ashes of our nation, God alone knows.