“Tell the truth or someone will tell it for you”
In June 2013, my article titled ‘Why Boycott Elections’ was published in many newspapers. I had argued that boycotting elections was to indirectly legitimize corrupt politicians holding power.
Boycott means casting zero per cent vote. Despite a boycott call by separatists, nowhere in the state was boycott observed fully. Anything between 40 and 60 per cent votes were cast. This shows that boycott call was an exercise in futility.
When out of anger people go on strike against their present or past rulers, NC, Congress and PDP activists are obliged to cast vote to their respective parties. They seize power and continue exploiting the people.
A year is yet to go for the onset of new elections. But to ease Ali Shah Geelani’s detention and set him free and his immediate resolve to campaign against elections has stimulated an interesting debate in current Kashmir politics. Some accuse NC of join hands with Geelani to hatch a conspiracy. He has been allowed to initiate intense campaign for boycotting elections. Previously he had not been permitted even to participate in Friday prayers or to attend marriage or condolence ceremonies of his relatives. He was not allowed to offer Eid namaz. How come now that all of a sudden NC has become so munificent to him? At the same time in two rallies which he addressed in Sopor and Shupian, emphasis was on boycott of elections. This lends credence to the doubts of his freedom from detention being attributed to anti election tirade.
On the other hand, Chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has adopted a very reasonable stance in regard to elections. His statement has appeared in social media and in the press. He has said that elections would have no impact on Kashmir issue and it is premature to initiate boycott campaign.
We do not know whether Hurriyat (M) units will take part in elections or not. But for some time we have been noticing that Mirwaiz has almost given up sentimentalism in regard to Kashmir issue and has been speaking of ground realities and problems of the masses. Obviously talking politics based on ground realities and facts means giving ammunition to one’s political opponents.
Ever since Mirwaiz began to give vent to ground realities, a whisper campaign against him has begun in various circles and places of public assembly. It has to be remembered that finding solution to the problems of people and disputes through peaceful dialogue and meaning full logic is what would be fruitful for the oppressed people. Political personalities find their status and prestige enhanced on this count. A glaring example is of Nelson Mandela.
Geelani has begun his election boycott campaign with full swing immediately after his release from the jail. The campaign started from his rally in Sopor. The question is that there still is a year to go by for the elections in the State and the mainstream political parties have not as yet initiated a campaign. What makes Geelani hasten his premature campaign? Political circles believe that the government may not let him be free for a long time. Therefore he wants to utilize the interregnum maximally.
Amusingly he has been eliciting promises of election boycott from the same persons who were instrumental in getting 64 Kashmiri youth martyred during 2008 turmoil, yet the people came out in large numbers and cast their vote. Let us face the truth. In the early stages when our youth wielded the gun, call for election boycott or for non-cooperation with the government did yield perfunctory results. But barring a few places, by and large, boycott call was not responded to in most of the State. In practical terms, boycott did help such political parties regain power as have been sucking the blood of the people for 65 years in the past. They are the parties that performed the role of B Team for Indian armed forces. Unfortunately the separatist groups do not understand that with a view to liberate the people from the clutches of the corrupt and tyrannical rulers they should discard the boycott and instead should (a) either take part in elections or send truly sincere and honest candidates to represent them in the assembly (b) consider elections unnecessary and therefore ignore them and leave the decision to the discretion of the people. It has to be remembered that there are numerous examples in the world when people running anti-foreign occupation campaign did take part in domestic elections.
People were bewildered to hear a whisper that Geelani was released from the jail to run the election boycott campaign. That would be an advantage to the NC. When soon after his release he initiated election boycott campaign, it lent credence to the rumor that an understanding of sorts had been struck between him and the NC. Well, Geelani needs to contradict the whisper.
Both factions of Hurriyat cry hoarse about implementation of UN Resolutions on Kashmir. On March 30, 1951 UN Resolution No. 91/1951 laid down that casting votes for electing legislators to the assembly in J&K would not be a substitute to plebiscite. The UN Resolution stipulates that the people of the State have a right to cast vote to be either with India or Pakistan. Local elections are fought for solving problems of the people. The exact wording of the UN Resolution is, “…under the UNO resolution No. 91/1961 of 30th March elections in Kashmir would not be a substitute for the UN mechanism on Kashmir.” It needs to be reminded that this resolution was passed when elections were held under the towering personality of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Why does Geelani repeatedly try to thrust his opinion on the people? Why does he contend that India is linking up the elections in the State to the Kashmir issue meaning the right of self determination of the people? Has he read all the UN Resolutions on Kashmir with all seriousness or is he distorting them to suit his own thinking? We would remind him that the UN resolution according to which Geelani is seeking resolution of Kashmir issue is the very resolution under which local elections are meant to solve people’s day to day problems. These elections do not exert any impact on the fundamental resolutions of the UN on Kashmir. Should not Geelani and the organizations that want solution according to UN resolutions struggle for implementation of the precise resolution meaning plebiscite instead of giving calls for boycott of local elections? What is the purpose of wasting the energy of his people on an irrelevant issue since the UN has already conceded it.
My experience and my thinking is that the separatist organizations should either remain silent and tell the people that for the purpose of protecting their local interests they should vote in favour of honest and nationalist candidates who would sincerely Endeavour to solve the problems facing the people or take courage and participate actively in the elections and thereof obstruct the entry of corrupt, deceitful and the surrogates of the army from entering the assembly. Supreme commander of Liberation Front, Amanullah Khan put the issue of freedom of entire State of Jammu and Kashmir to one side and took decision to participate in the municipal elections of Azad Kashmir. Why should not the separatists take part in elections to the assembly seats?
I would like to add here that within hours after his meeting with the Pakistani envoy Sartaj Aziz in New Delhi, Geelani said that gun and violence would solve the Kashmir issue. Obviously he said it out of frustration.
The Pakistani delegate muss have told him how circumspect Pakistan is today in providing support to armed insurgency in Kashmir. Geelani cannot close his eyes to thousands of youth killed in their fight against the Indian army and the ever increasing number of graveyards where the dead remain buried. This is the gift of the gun and only those families that have lost their near and dear ones can feel the pain of this tragedy. Does Geelani mean to ask for more sacrifices of human lives for a goal that is elusive?
Apart from the purport of this article, it is to be mentioned that people in Kashmir are waiting since long to meet with their relatives. Issuance of a passport is delayed for years at end on very flimsy grounds. The IG of CID has made people’s life miserable. He has become as arrogant as to refuse people even a meeting to explain their problems. Is it because he is said to be very close to the Chief Minister? How can he become anti-people and behave like an autocrat and overrun the rules and practices?
This article was published in various Pakistani and Kashmiri newspapers.