With Dr. Farooq Abdullah making it to the Parliament after wresting the prestigious Srinagar parliamentary seat from the ruling PDP, it is the time to see how he fares now. During past few weeks of electioneering here, he has openly sided with the disenfranchised, disempowered and bereaved Kashmiri lot, but now it remains to be seen if he continues to be on the same page; and if yes, for how long.
Unfortunately, in his decades-long political career thus far he has not many achievements under his belt. Apparently at the fag end of his political career, the minimum one could expect from him is that he would lend voice to the voiceless and talk all that he has been talking about of late where it matters the most – the Parliament. In his new avatar as the “people’s representative”, he could use his position as the senior-most political voice to lend some meaning to the otherwise “meaningless mainstream politics”, which is under great stress these days when the situation in Kashmir has gone back to the proverbial square-one.
With people’s anger and alienation at highest in Kashmir, and both State and the Central governments seemingly not knowing how to deal with the emergent crises, a person like Farooq Abdullah could make some difference by using his position and stature to attract much-needed political attention and intervention to Kashmir. During electioneering he has not grown any bones about it. Today when Kashmir is once again on the brink and senior Abdullah is in a position to do something about it, let’s hope he won’t fretter away the opportunity.
Over the years Kashmir has evolved into a huge conflict enterprise -- there are numerous actors who do not want any semblance of calm here. Notwithstanding their public posturing, fact of the matter remains that continuation of hostilities means continuation of privileges and perks enjoyed by them, while as return of peace would mean that these conflict establishments would have to down their shutters for good. In fact this is not something unique to this place only but the history of conflicts everywhere is replete with instances wherein the spoilers do everything they could to emasculate the prospective gains of peace to ensure that their interests remained intact.
Without sitting on judgment and indicting any particular actor for the renewed acts of violence and provocations in Kashmir, it should suffice saying that all the major actors in the political amphitheatre of the state have a visible interest in indulging in such acts. And unfortunately these actors, present on all sides of the political divide, would certainly waste volumes in accusing the ‘other’ for the culpability with the sole aim of trying to wave-off their own possible complicity. This is exactly what is happening here now. Each side is blaming the other without anyone actually bothering to make a fool-proof case about its own exoneration or other’s involvement.
Irrespective of who is behind the recent spree of violence, mainstream political establishment would do itself a lot of harm if it allows the spoilers to have a field day like they have had thus far. At this crucial moment, the entire mainstream political establishment and not only the governments here and at New Delhi must try and understand the interests and aspirations of the ordinary mortals of the Valley instead of just playing to the political galleries. Like elsewhere, people here want peace, they want the rule of law to prevail because any lawlessness clearly undermines their life and liberties. The clichéd rhetoric that prioritizes the so-called morale of a particular miniscule community has long lost its appeal. So if the situation is to be salvaged, New Delhi will have to come up with some political initiatives to allay the popular fears and anxieties here.
This is where senior Abdullah could play a role – by convincing New Delhi that it is not only about the land or territory but that people of the Valley must also count and figure somewhere in their political calculations. Democracy, after all, is not only about conducting elections – it is also about respecting the public’s life and liberties, their properties, their sentiments and political opinions too. It is about letting them have some sense of belonging – that they belong to the state and the state belongs to them.