Monday, June 29, 2009

The day, they struggled for a way forward

Youth involved, but not engaged: Drabu

Agha Ashraf Is Ashamed Of Being Indian

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, June 28: At a seminar on ‘Kashmir-The Way Forward’ organized by GK Foundation on Sunday, noted academics, economists, writers, and lawyers found it hard to suggest or even hint at any way forward but eloquently-- some of them passionately-- pointed out the lacunae in the resistance and the leadership. 
 In his keynote address, veteran educationist Prof Agha Ashraf Ali made a trip to history, recalling the glory of renaissance in the medieval Muslim world. In his unique style he swept a wide range of ideas in an attempt to suggest a way forward, praising the thinking prowess of C Rajagopalachari and humility of Omar Abdullah, advising the participants to read three ‘important’ books on history, and expressing concern over presence of crorepati parliamentarians in Indian parliament. Agha Ashraf, however, said the onerous task for the leadership of all hues was to base their struggle in ‘our own cultural and historical ethos.’ The climax of his key note speech was an admission that he was ashamed of being an Indian.
 The vice-chancellor of the Islamic University, Prof. Sidiq Wahid, succinctly explained the intractability of Kashmir dispute by recalling that he attended a seminar in 1993 that was similarly titled as ‘
Kashmir-The Way Forward.’ As the intellectuals were debating the same thing 16 years later, while the issue became layered over the time, Prof.Wahid said, in despair, we needed a political archaeologist to uncover and resolve it.
 Though no original idea emerged from the whole discourse on the topic, the speakers in their own distinct ways made some important observations that can pave the way forward.
 The seminar was held in three sessions. The speakers read the papers in each session, which was followed by brief comments and questions. Noted economist and chairman Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Dr Haseeb Drabu, said the greatest intellectual challenge facing
Jammu and Kashmir today is exploring a new ideological consensus between “the indifference of the mainstream integrationists and the anarchist intolerance of the separatists”. 
 Speaking at the inaugural session of the seminar on “Kashmir - The Way Forward” organized by Greater
Kashmir Foundation here, Dr Drabu said the obsession with an “either-or” solution has colonized the mind of the state’s civil society. “This has far greater implication for the future, than the occupation of a territory,” he said and added the obsession of search for solutions in the past has colonized the mind of the state’s civil society. “This has far greater implication for the future, as indeed it has for the present,” he said.

Stressing the need for active political engagement of the state’s younger generation, Drabu said the state’s young population is shaped by an unprecedented civil strife, political disruption, social chaos at home and great progress abroad. 

 With 40 per cent of the population between the age group of 15 to 30, he said there is a stark and serious generational mismatch between the ones who represent and those who are being represented, and also between the ones who speak and those who are spoken for. 
 “Although, a generational shift at the top level in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir has already taken place, what this new leadership needs to do now is to build a younger following,” Dr Drabu said in his presentation - Generation Next: Engagement, Ideology and Ethics. “A leadership that speaks to and relates to the youth and their new politics – the politics of ethics and substance,” he said. 
 Admiring the state’s young leadership across the political divide, Drabu said such a confluence of young blood and brains across all shades of the political spectrum is rare indeed. “But they have to carry along the state’s huge young generation,” he said.
 Dr Drabu’s basic premise of a generational shift was not confined to political leadership alone. He wanted the generation next political leadership to be complemented by a younger business leadership. “If the state’s new generation shares a set of political beliefs, these have to be translated into a political agenda and an economic philosophy,” he said and added that the state today needs a generational spokesman, who represents the aspirations of its emancipated young population. “If their resources are channelized productively, we could have a politically empowered, socially responsible, ethically aware and economically independent generation of new citizens,” he said.
In his address on “The scope of Resistance: Between hysteria and apology” GK columnist Ajaz-ul-Haque characterized the four phases of 1947, 1953, 1975 and 1990 in Kashmir history as occupation, resistance, compromise and rebellion. Ajaz said that factors like fear and sycophancy have marred the intelligentsia of
Kashmir. Elaborating the concept of resistance, Ajaz said resistance was abnormal response to an abnormal situation and that makes it normal. He however said one shouldn’t annihilate oneself in a bid to annihilate his enemy during the resistance. “Living for the cause demands more commitment then dying for it,” he added. Haq strongly opposed what he termed as “contractualism of mass sentiment” and said monster of suspension would end when people who have assumed charge of giving certificates about loyalties would rethink at their acts. He said sentiment belongs to all and said famous resistance writers including Franz Fanon celebrated the values of resistance without eulogizing violence. 
 Dr Altaf Hussain said
Kashmir was not the dispute or issue about the terrorism. “Yes, if you are concerned about the terrorism, yes we are facing it and it is State terrorism,” he said. He said 700,000 troops in Jammu Kashmir were not to counter militants but to control the population. He said those who propagate values of Gandhi and Nehru had not a word for Kashmiris who have been subjected to massive human rights abuses. He said Marxists, Communists and Gandhians had not a word for Kashmiris. He said some people were trying to bury Kashmir dispute under the garb of reconciliation and peace. He said don’t trust people who don’t have proper honest track record.
 Dr Hameeda Nayeem who teaches in
Kashmir University said that the demilitarization should take place. She said there was no harm in talking about the solutions when world was talking about Kashmir and South Asia. Road to peace in South Asia, he said, moves through Kashmir. 
 In his presidential address Agha Ashraf Ali asked people to have humility. He described humility as “concealed form of love.” He said after Shopian incident he feels ashamed of being Indian.
 In his introductory note, Z.G Muhammad said the rape and murder of two women of Shopian had left the society shell shocked. He said the Greater
Kashmir owes certain responsibility towards the society. He said ‘Kashmir-The Way Forward’ was a move by the Greater Kashmir to involve the society in the debate. 
 Prof Riyaz Punjabi, who presided over the first session, said it was good to have such debates. “This helps the society in idea exchange and ending the chaos,” he said. ” He said the issue of the right to self determination needed to be revisited in the light of the relevant UN commission’s records in which a reference to Kashmir was made only once in the past 60 years. He stressed the need to create awareness among the generation next about the ground realities. 
 However, Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain defended resistance and said status quoists wouldn’t have last word on
Kashmir dispute. 
 The GK correspondent Faheem Aslam anchored the session.

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