K B Jandial
When out of power, Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti hardly leave any occasion to vilify the Central Govt and now PM Modi, especially after “abrogation” of Article 370, even if it contradicts their own stated position or ideology. Perhaps, it is the result of politics of hatred or polarisation to strengthen their vote bank, largely in Kashmir. One such occasion has come on 15th August when the armed Talibans occupied Afghanistan, coinciding with our Independence Day. How two ‘Independence Days’ are contrasting with equally opposite modes of surge to power and’independence’? But for the date, there is no comparison between the two nations. India’s Independence was the culmination of a long non-violent struggle and now is world’s largest robustly functional and vibrant democracy steadfastly treading on the secular and democratic principles. Afghanistan is taken over by warlords, veterans of guerrilla warfare and Islamic terrorists following withdrawal of US led Coalition forces and collapse of democratically elected people’s Govt following the flight of Afghan President Prof Ashraf Ghani.
In Indian democracy, many political leaders do make headlines with their outrageous remarks, at times supporting the enemy country and extremists and get away with it. On Taliban, fact remains that most Indians, at least the sensible ones, see the Taliban as an abomination. There is neither anything redeeming about them nor any ‘hope’ of them doing any good and governing Afghanistan with globally accepted principles of governance. These principles include equality, respect for human rights and ethnic and cultural diversities, accountability, transparency responsiveness, inclusiveness and rule of law.
Dr. Farooq Abdullah expressed the hope that “Taliban will deliver good governance and follow Islamic principles in Afghanistan and respect human rights “. He used the occasion of the 39th death anniversary of his father, Sheikh Abdullah to air his views while answering questions of media persons. Facing instant criticism, the NC tweeted that it was not an endorsement of Taliban rule but only an invocation of Human Rights (Insaani-Huqooq) & Social Justice (Insaaf) in the turbulent country.
A little later, identical views were expressed by Mehbooba Mufti. She has a piece of advice for the armed Taliban, “If it wants to govern Afghanistan, it will have to follow the true Sharia law as laid down in the Quran which guarantees rights of women, children and elderly.” She has a greater wish and wanted them to ‘set an example for the world if they follow real Sharia law’.
Both Kashmiri leaders appear to be enamoured of Islamic ‘Sharia Law’ and wanted Taliban to pursue it in Afghanistan. Going a step forward, Mehbooba desires Taliban to succeed so that Sharia Law becomes an adoptable model for many nations. Absolutely, there is no problem in desiring anything including Sharia law but the question that haunts people is to why both of them didn’t bring Sharia law in J&K when they were in power, for most of 73 years since independence. Obviously, these might have some acceptability in primitive societies based on conformist and fundamentalist interpretation of religious principles which is abhorred in the modern, progressive, open and democratic societies.
Interestingly, the ‘love’ for Taliban & Sharia Law disappeared soon as her comments faced flak all over and Mehbooba had to say, “Taliban are in Afghanistan and why talk about them…”? The realisation has dawned on her late but not before getting bad press for eulogizing armed rebels who have no respect for rule of law, democracy, human rights, equality etc.
What is in this gun toting Taliban that enamoured anyone except for some on the ground of common religion? Well, at least two of the former J&K Chief Ministers- Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have found in the brute Taliban a ray of hope, not of good governance, but of implementation of “real” Sharia law. Are they really serious about it? Doesn’t it undercut their own politics in Kashmir?
Everybody knows that Dr. Farooq Abdullah has a liberal, open and enjoyable lifestyle, liking for all ‘good things’ of life. How would he fit in Taliban-ruled dispensation in Kashmir? As for Mehbooba Mufti, it would be even worse. Taliban or Islamists cannot countenance a woman even playing sport, let alone accepting her as the head of the Government. Is this what she is endorsing?
Well, it is also sheer politics when BJP and some other political parties criticised both leaders for not condemning Taliban for their recent atrocities and diktats including against women and media persons. Whether anyone condemns Taliban or not, is their own choice and political discretion but ‘hailing’ or ‘promoting’ Islamic Sharia law and lauding armed rebels for taking over power by force, exposes their duplicity as living in world’s largest robustly functional and vibrant democracy, they often shed tears on trampling of their democratic and human rights. Both of them had come to power by democratic process of elections and not on the force of the gun as in the case of Taliban. Which one of their commitments is genuine – democracy, secularism& rule of law or Taliban’s rule & Sharia Law? Was it a political compulsion to advise the Taliban to follow Sharia Law? Or is it because the Taliban are ‘mujahedeen’ who too believed in jihad like Kashmiri militants?
May be, they have other compulsions. One is to reach out to a section of Kashmiris, which is in any case not large but may be ideologically strong, who feel excited over Taliban’s coming to power in Afghanistan. They see Taliban Govt in Afghanistan as an epitome of puritanical Islamist rule. Is this type of rule their wish for J&K? The other compulsion could be the Pakistani factor; Pakistan was instrumental in installing a Taliban Govt in Afghanistan and acquired a place of importance in the new power axis in the South-East, and Kashmiri leaders especially those who are out of power, desist from speaking anything that may annoy Pakistan.
It is good that both leaders, facing flak over their newly acquired love for ‘Taliban’ and ‘Sharia law’, immediately controlled the damage by saying that their statements were “distorted”, a very common defence of all politicians. But nowadays their sound bites and Facebook posts normally negate their ‘damage control exercise’.
How could both leaders forget the dreadful early militancy years in Kashmir when it witnessed Taliban type restrictions imposed by Islamist Jihadis? In their first diktat, Pakistan sponsored Jihadis had shut down cinema theaters, beauty parlors, liquor shops and all other centres of entertainment, prescribed compulsory ‘burqa’ for school and college female students and teachers and started throwing acid on those violating their ‘diktat’. They had pushed a progressive Kashmiri society into primitive and regressive social order.
Kashmir too had a face-off with Sharia Law for some time. In those terrible days, there had been reports of “Justice AK-47” delivered by “Sharia Courts” In some cases, “blood money” was offered and if not accepted, the abductees or accused of other crimes like rape, ‘Informer’ were “sentenced to death” by hanging or AK-47. The victim families were so motivated that they,on execution, took it as Allah’s wish.
Do Mehbooba and Dr. Abdullah envisage revival of abhorrent culture in Kashmir again when they espouse Sharia law wishing it to be a role model for the entire world? Are they toying with the idea of making Kashmir a nursery for it?
And God forbid if it happens, what would happen to others (kafirs)? There would be three possibilities: put to death, conversion to Islam, or pay Jaziya. Whatever Mehbooba or Dr. Farooq Abdullah may say about Taliban or Sharia Law; nobody would believe that they would ever subscribe to these prescriptions for us.
Since both of these leaders, like almost all mainstream politicians, had deserted the Valley to escape the possible elimination at the hands of Jihadis, they might not have experienced the rigors of this barbarity. When Kashmir has turned back to this savage culture, our ‘matured’ out of power leaders are showing yearning for Taliban rule and Sharia Law.
Already enough blood has been shed on the streets of J&K in the last 31 years and it is no occasion to glorify gun toting Taliban and raise the expectations of gullible Kashmiris about them and the Sharia Law. Fight BJP and PM Modi on political issues including Article 370 but don’t try to promote a constituency for such Jihadis. They are enemies of peace, equality, communal harmony, democracy and rule of law even though they temporally succeeded in occupying a country. Better allow the Govt of India to handle Taliban and Afghanistan issues and restrict their comments to J&K problems, which, of late, Mehbooba has rightly realised.
K B Jandial