Permit me to speak to you candidly, Farooq Sahib. People in Kashmir call you an eccentric man. I agree with them but I know you have a method in the madness.
Despite all eccentricity that you may have, you have, through paternal legacy and conviction, rejected Kashmir’s Pakistan option. It is not to please the Indians but to care for your compatriots in Jammu & Kashmir who are emotional but not visionary.
New Delhi has been soft as well as harsh to you, a mixed dosage, in your entire political career. You have more friends in the rest of the county than in Kashmir just because you have the art of making friends, not enemies. Observing and inquisitive people look at personality not person necessarily. It is so true in your case.
Your DNA is a peculiar combination of emotion and rationality, of subtlety and blatancy, of antics and polemics. These traits of character are rarely found in contemporary Indian political culture.
For seven long months, you were put under house arrest and PSA (Public Safety Act) was also slapped on you. It was an unjustifiable action. But lately, you had made yourself an unusual and unexpected enigma. Your conscience must have chided you when once you said you were walking behind the Hurriyat. That statement made a political colossus turn into a diminutive. The minions around you in and outside your party let you down in the final analysis. Things worsened when you, in a bid to score a point over Mehbooba Mufti, began sending unsolicited pieces of advice to New Delhi to talk to Pakistan about Kashmir. Of course, you said that in good faith but you did not realize that you were playing with fire. Had you asked the militants to cease fire and let the two sides talk, it would have carried the desired weight.
Farooq Sahib, can you imagine what damage you did to the State, the country and your organization by joining hands with the assorted group of opposition and travelled all the way to Kolkata to join the camaraderie. It did not behove your stature. Your illustrious father Sheikh Sahib gave not a tuppence to these lumpen all his life. Why do you want to compromise your personality, prestige and ideology? What was your compulsion? Was it insurmountable?
After 5th. August 2019, many things have happened extensively affecting the erstwhile J&K State. Do you want to look back and open a plethora of laments or do you want to look forward and move ahead? Our understanding is that you, as a modern, forward-looking and a pragmatic politician, will opt for the latter choice.
A new political atmosphere is developing in the country with ramifications for the Union Territory of J&K. The spectre of the third political front is emerging in J&K. Whether sponsored or indigenous is not the point. The point to be highlighted is that you have the compulsion of familiarizing yourself with the undercurrent. We are aware that the Home Ministry was working on the double strategy of boosting the third front and negotiating with you while you were under house arrest. The Home Ministry undoubtedly must be working along with the formula that a known devil is better than an unknown saint. Fortunately for Kashmir, you have chosen the right path of feeling the mainstream pulse.
Where do we go from here? Militancy has destroyed Kashmir. Whether you connived at it out of day-dreaming or whether you were incapacitated to handle it adroitly and nip the evil in the bud etc. will remain contentious issues. These will get relegated to the dustbin of history. However, keeping your gaze fixed on the question what next in the light of what has happened, we may say that there is still a chance of redemption provided at this ripe age you decide to muster courage and take independent decisions.
The first and foremost suggestion we would humbly make is that you distance yourself from politics of negation as well as negative politicians. The Congress and the Left, your old cronies, are a defunct, archaic and rejected lot. Either mend them or shun them and carve your path. Don’t think that you were released from house arrest on their plea. Keep them happy with goshtaba and biryani because that is all they are worth.
Please think constructively how you can impress upon your colleagues, friends and vast masses of people in Kashmir to have trust in the secular democratic dispensation. Teach them to respect it and strengthen it. That can be done by making them compare their lot with the lot of the wide Muslim world of Arab Spring. We know this is a formidable task but great persons struggle only for a great cause. Your voice in the parliament should be the loudest, most sagacious and most pragmatic one as if the voice from the invisible. Don’t walk the footprints of minions, rather (to put it poetically) — apne dil ko kar apne chirag se roshan (enlighten your heart through the lamp in your heart).
Lastly, Farooq Sahib, you need to reach the vast Indian nation. Taking care of this historic nation also means taking care of your people in J&K as well. You may like to please Kashmiris by recounting to them the ideas of reviving the statehood of J&K. Nothing wrong about that but before doing so put this question to your conscience, “Wasn’t it possible to bring about a drastic change to the State when it was fast drifting away under subversion?” Neither the revival of the statehood nor the domicile issue and nor the resolution of the internal displacement logjam is of any priority. The priority issue is of existentialism of civilizational India. The priority is to understand and remedy the damage done by home-bred enemies to the nation.
Farooq Sahib, history beckons you to perform your historic role. Take it or leave it, the choice is yours.