Finding the middle ground

On the debate between Ajaz-ul-Haque’s “Make it big” and “We differ” by Mohammad Ashraf Khwaja/ Mahboob-ul-Haq

Fida Firdous
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 10 2019 11:13PM | Updated Date: Feb 10 2019 11:13PM
Finding the middle groundFile Photo

The two diverse write ups published on the eve of Shah Feasal’s resignation from the Indian Administrative Services to participate in the electoral politics reflect the divide that exists on the ground. While Ajaz-ul- Haque’s “Make it big” (Write Hand) seems to reflect the mental processing of those who find themselves in the middle of a swell. Mohammad Ashraf Khwaja and Mahboob-ul-Haq on the other hand seem to cherish a utopian dream.  The two opposing perspectives that divide and describe the way Kashmiri’s are dealing with the situation on daily basis. 

Observe carefully the political behaviour of those around you. Analyse, how they responded to the news? To your delight the results will be affirming the presence of these two mentalities. This isn’t a new phenomenon but the continuation of an old one. Our history is more or less the struggle between the two. How often have we pinned our hopes on individuals and how often we have been betrayed? How often have we rejected the individuals and have been proven right? 

Ajaz-ul- Haque’s “Make it big” exemplifies Harsh Mander, an IAS officer who in protest against Gujarat’s 2002 ‘state-engineered massacre’ resigned from his post. But unlike Shah Feasal, Harsh didn’t aspire to grab power in order to make the difference. Harsh chose the difficult path by deciding to fight against those in positions of power. The difference between the two determines the courage they hold. In a scenario as such Shah Feasal’s resignation is neither courageous nor appreciating. 

Mohammad Ashraf Khwaja and Mahboob-ul-Haq while being critical of Ajaz- ul Haque’s opinion appreciate Shah Feasal’s resignation and reject his decision to embrace electoral politics in the same breath. Further contradictions emerge when the author’s term Shah Faesal a careerist. Well, if they know he is a careerist, why to waste time appreciating him? Such appreciation implies embracing the narrative Shah Feasal is trying to establish around his resignation. For those who cite historical facts to reject the electoral politics must not over sight the narratives that were used to befool the masses in the past. In case they choose to do so, Aajiz ul Haque’s piece of advice to Shah Feasal makes better sense while enforcing that a bureaucrat turning politician is just a change of chair.

The difference of opinion on the subject of electoral politics is not only understandable but in line with the freedom we aspire. Mohammad Ashraf Khwaja and Mahboob-ul-Haq’s invoking of journalistic principle of neutrality in response to Ajaz- ul Haque’s opinion is simply misplaced. They must recognise the difference between a journalist and a columnist.  However their questions I quote, “Politics is everybody’s right and nobody can rob off anyone from the right of doing politics, but which type of politics? One which represents the sentiments of people or the one which doesn’t? When did New Delhi allow the growth and development of healthy and strong political institutions in Kashmir?” are very pertinent. 

This brings us to the core difference i.e. electoral politics and its role. Both the write ups are critical of the history of electoral politics. While Aajiz ul Haque limits his critic to National Conference, Mohammad Ashraf Khwaja and Mahboob-ul-Haq remind him of others. The difference lies in the context not in the text.  Ajaz ul Haque seems convinced by the rumours that suggested Shah Feasal is joining NC perhaps which is why the criticism was narrowed down. But the bigger difference relates to the question, Can electoral politics with a change be embraced? 

Mohammad Ashraf Khwaja and Mahboob-ul-Haq are not convinced by the idea. For them such embracement implies “exhorting the educated youth to get engaged in mainstream politics at the cost of ignoring the sacrifices of tens of thousands of people”. Their assessment sounds rational but it fails to recognise the vacuum that exists to cost us badly. From Abdullahs to Muftis and everyone else in the electoral politics here, no one represented the sentiments of the people. They have been so bad that their reflections on electoral politics make the exercise look futile besides giving New Delhi a free hand in the way things are executed on the ground. 

It is essential to cut the free hand to make the resistance appear more dramatic. However, any such move can’t be embraced without the prior consent of those who are custodians of the resistance for decades now. The other question remains to be answered. Who can be trusted for the role? Shah Feasal? No, not at all! Shah Feasal at his best is a careerist as previously mentioned. From MBBS to an IAS his journey tells us he is a good at attempting question papers. His achievements are his personal gains. There exists no evidence or any of his work to suggest that he is an intellectual. Being a public figure alone doesn’t qualify him for intellectualism and being educated is no speciality here. 

Shah Feasal’s intellect and vision are best reflected by the poem he wrote on the face of student agitation in 2017. To quote him “Are they students or hate mongers of old history, Cigarettes in their mouth, with murderous red eyes and carrying stones in their hands.” ! 

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