Mufti Sayeeds demand for Pakistani currency has received a mixed response in the valley. While some welcomed Sayeeds proposal, others believe that the Indian government should first try to resolve the Kashmir issue, instead of testing its might.
EVEN AS Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s suggestion of introducing Pakistani currency in the state has been slammed vehemently by jingoists in India, particularly those tracing their lineage to the original ‘Aryans’, it has received mixed response in the valley itself. While the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) regards the Mufti and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as unabashed pro-India protagonists, the two main factions of the alliance do not see eye to eye with each other.
The faction led by its chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, who originally untied two-dozen disparate militant outfits into APHC, has welcomed the proposal. Maulana Abbas Ansari, a senior leader of this faction, has said the currency proposal is not something new. He said former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee
had concurred with the suggestion long back, when it was put forward to him by his group. He declared, “Not only do we favour Pakistani currency in the state; eventually all SAARC countries must aim to have a common currency.”
He said that the Hurriyat wants a start to the permanent resolution of the Kashmir from wherever, but believes a resolution cannot be expected until “a bridge of trust springs up between India
and Pakistan.” All the parties in APHC favour softening of borders and permitting travel merely on identity cards, so that people from both sides can mingle. According to Ansari, travel across the LoC should be made as easy as with Nepal. Commenting on the earlier proposal by the state finance minister, Tariq Hamid Qarra, belonging to the former CM’s party to have a distinct currency for Kashmir, Ansari said, “Be it Sayeed or any other leader who makes such a proposal, we will consider it propitious.”
On the other hand, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the firebrand “Kashmiri nationalist”, who has quite a lot of following in the Indian-held Kashmir, has said that the Pakistani currency demand was the latest flourish from pro-India leaders. He said, “His alliance had nothing to do with such proposals.” “These are new efforts to confuse the people of the state and complicate the Kashmir issue further,” he said.
Geelani elaborated, “These proposals are meaningless, unless concrete and decisive efforts are made to resolve the basic issue behind the dispute that exists.” Dubbing the Mufti and other pro-India leaders as advocates of self-rule – diluted to joint control – and now further diluted to the common currency demand – he accused them of working to perpetuate the occupation of Kashmir by India. He feels that these ‘Indian agents’ basically want to get into the good books of the ‘aggressors’ so that they can enjoy goodies thrown at them by New Delhi.
In an interview to Kashmir News Service, Geelani declared, “Indian agents try to create confusion by holding rallies and advancing all sorts of proposals to fulfill their own interests, but (these are) unacceptable, because we want the Kashmir issue to be resolved under the resolutions of the United Nations.”
He advised the Indian government to display realism and give priority to “resolving the Kashmir issue strictly in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, without delay, instead of testing its might.” He warned that this approach could only bring misery to the people while unnecessarily sacrificing lives and limbs of Indian soldiers. According to him, “Currency does have its place and the Kashmir issue has its own place.” He opined that treating such ‘peripheral issues’ would not make a difference to the nature and status of the Kashmir issue.
In any case, all the constituents of the Hurriyat agree that the leaderships on both sides of the LoC needs to be involved in the final resolution of the Kashmir issue. The official APHC stand remains: “Kashmir is the real issue, and both India and Pakistan will have to move forward to resolve it, taking the Kashmiri people along. That does seem to be a fair demand. But, as long as upper caste Indians – who do control policy matters in New Delhi, despite all talks of social justice – undergo a drastic reality check, it cannot be met. The massacre of innocent civilians and human sacrifices of jawans in action, both at the expense of an impoverished population, is bound to continue. For, no military power can ever win a war against civilians.
The Mufti may not be an ‘Indian patriot’ according to ‘elite intelligentsia’ that arbitrarily considers the territory an ‘integral part of India’. Then, MK Gandhi and his followers were not British patriots either. It is for Kashmiris to decide if he is a ‘Kashmiri patriot’.
Indian ‘patriots’ must realise that it will not do if a few hundred fellows, constituting the parliament (their impeccable credentials are open secret!) repeatedly shout, "Kashmir is an integral part of India!” It is a disputed territory and is recognised as an Indian “held” region and Pakistan ‘administered’ (never claimed to be an ‘integral part’ yet) region. The USSR is no more and abuse of its veto in the UN can no more sweep it under the carpet. That is why talks, under international pressure, are being held with APHC.
Nobody will prevent Indians from feeling proud of ‘Kashmiri culture’ or for that matter, ‘Tibetan culture’, ‘Malayan culture’, ‘Java-Bali culture’ or ‘Pakistani culture’. But, to consider its people to be “our own fellow countrymen” has to have international sanction!
Kashmiri Pandits have, in the past, provided strategic leadership to many kingdoms, amalgamated into what is now India. The present generation of Kashmiri Pandits must realise that their future can be secure only as Kashmiris and in Kashmir – and not as refugees under the mercy of a powerful neighbour. Till that realisation dawns, there seems to be no sustainable solution to the dispute, even as a Kashmir-origin family enjoys dynastic succession in India.