Naseer A Ganai
This great tragedy took place somewhere in 2010, at the height of uprising. Those were the times when TV channels would invite anyone from Kashmir to know, why Kashmiri youth were on streets.
Though they knew why they were on streets, they deemed it proper to listen from Kashmiris to give Kashmiris feeling that they don’t know. And Kashmiris enjoy feeling of being heard. They rejoice feeling of being listened. Kashmiris feel on cloud nine when their opinions are sought.
Those days, television anchors would ask questions and seeks answers. They would repeat similar questions to seek different answers. If the answers would not suit them they would rehash questions and try to answer them themselves.
The show must go on.
One evening a TV channel had galaxy of politicians from Kashmir. Perhaps Dr. Mehboob Beg, Muhammad Shafi, Muzaffer Baig and others. They all were all elated and were eager to speak.
So Mr. Muhammad Shafi Uri, asked the anchor, what is your take on the situation, why there is stone pelting, why people are on streets, isn’t it indictment of Omar Abdullah Government? What people are demanding? Why they are demanding Azadi? Isn’t casting vote after every six years an Azadi, freedom of choice? Will they get such an Azadi in Pakistan? Tell me Mr. Muhammad Shafi Uri why is National Conference not assertive? Why NC political leaders are not on streets? Where is Mehbooba Mufti? Why are not they in hospitals to inquire about injured? Mr. Muhammad Shafi Uri what is going in Kashmir, finally the anchor concluded his question-cum-essay and allowed Mr. Muhammad Shafi to speak.
Muhammad Shafi didn’t answer the essay. He instead went on and clarified to the anchor that he should pronounce his name correctly. “I am not Muhammad Shafi Uri. My name is Muhammad Shafi. I belong to Uri. But my name is Muhammad Shafi,” Shafi Sahab said calmly.
What followed next is immaterial. But in those times when people had even forgotten their names, Shafi Sahab should be given credit for reminding TV anchors how to pronounce his.
Shafi Sahab whether he acknowledges it or not is known as Shafi Uri. Even if he goes on reminding everyone that he is Muhammad Shafi, it would not change anything on ground. On ground and among people Muhammad Shafi is known as Shafi Uri whether he resides in New York or in New Delhi, whether he goes to Uri or not.
This is not an attempt deride or ridicule a politician of high repute. In National Conference he is perhaps among a few thinking politicians. Otherwise, majority of leaders in the NC don’t bother to think at all. Their level of thinking is such that they think they should not think too much as it strains kidneys.
But why politician of Muhammad Shafi’s stature refuses to own the suffix of Uri. Can’t it be construed as contempt for the place and the constituency where from he has been elected in the Legislative Assembly over the years?
This is not particular to Shafi Sahab only. It is said when NC comes to power its’ political class loses balance. The balance sheet of past four years of NC is indication how the party has behaved. When Congress asked it to bend, it crawled. The party announces elections then retreats. Chidambaram created history by chairing Kishtwar development Board’s meeting. This doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It happens when you allow it to happen. When you prefer Muhammad Shafi over Shafi Uri, you have to be ready for any eventuality.