Last year, many young boys died in a cynical version of a Kashmiri intifada. They died at the hands of the Kashmir police, falling to rubber bullets at close range, some in police firings. But they were all murdered by one man: Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the paterfamilias of terror in the Valley.
As he realizes that a life spent fighting the Indian state is coming to a close—Geelani is 82 years old—he may have misread the Kashmir gestalt. Having based his politics on the Kashmiri Muslim platform for decades with generous Pakistani patronage, he is stubbornly resisting the idea that the Kashmiri can be a Global Muslim. Just like the Pakistani establishment thinks that the Global Muslim is not Benazir Bhutto, Salman Haider or Moni Mohsin, but someone like Hafeez Saeed or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Osama wanted the Global Muslim to be a faceless, illiterate, unwashed trigger-happy man who sends children strapped with explosives out to blow up Pakistani soldiers—just like Geelani used to send the children of Kashmir with stones to be thrown at the army and the police.
Geelani, in his dotage, maybe has a prescience that his dream is crumbling. So he held a prayer meeting in Kashmir for Obama. “By killing him the fight will not end, but thousands of Osamas would appear within the US and Britain,” Geelani said on May 3, the day after US Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. “As long as disputes such as Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Iraq were unresolved, resistance would continue.” The Hurriyat mobilized its cadres, but the ordinary Kashmiri stayed at home.
Last week he accused his old enemy—the Indian Army—for raping Kashmiri women. It failed to get any response from ordinary Kashmiris.
This week, he decided to flout India and charged off to meet the Pakistani foodie-turned-foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar. Returning to Srinagar, he was put under house arrest. The Kashmiri on the street decided to get on with his life: shopping, eating, sleeping, sending children to school, making love, drinking coffee as Geelani fumed helplessly.
The ordinary Kashmir, it seems, is sick of Geelani. He wants jobs—the hated J&K police was hiring a few months ago, and hundreds turned up to apply; many of them were part of the former intifada.
So what has changed in a year?
Last year, this was a man so powerful that whenever he called for a shut down, Kashmir came to a standstill. He even had a calendar named after him—the Geelani Calendar—that marked protest days for the year. Shops shut; traffic on the streets vanished; schools were closed. The inexperienced Omar Abdullah tried to buy peace, but that wasn’t something Geelani understood.
Geelani’s peace was peace dictated by Pakistan for Kashmir. An Islamic Kashmir. Khar wasn’t having any of it—she loves Robert Cavalli more than Osama. Privately, so does General Kayani.
Geelani has no clue that the ordinary Kashmiri hates Pakistan. In a recent intercept aired on Indian television, two jihadis trying to cross into Kashmir last week were being instructed by their handler who spoke in Punjabi: “Kill any Kashmiri who crosses your path. They need to be taught a lesson.”
Geelani, sadly needs one, too. Kashmir has had enough of violence; enough of shops shut for months; school buses stoned by his supporters, injuring small children. For him, the jihad will never end.
Last year, immediately after his movement was broken, Geelani was sitting on the green lawn in his courtyard, warmed by the balmy winter sun. He looked frail and gentle, the friendly neighborhood grandfather. We spoke at length. To understand Geelani, it is important to understand his defeat and not his early victories. Below, read some unpublished excerpts from the interview:
Q: Your demand for Azaadi, what does it mean?
A: Complete independence for Kashmir.
Q: Does that include POK also?
A: It is part of Kashmir. I mean the whole of Kashmir
Q: You have expressed the opinion that India and Pakistan should sit together to solve the Kashmir issue. Why Pakistan? You have a reputation of being pro-Pakistan.
A: All three are involved parties. You cannot have a dialogue on Kashmir without Pakistan.
Q: But the majority of Indian Muslims do not favor an independent Kashmir.
A: It was the choice of the majority of Indian Muslims to stay behind in a secular India. But that doesn’t mean the interests of Kashmiri Muslims should be held hostage by the rest.
The last sentence is the key to understanding Kashmir. The ordinary Kashmir doesn’t like India. It’s obvious on the streets, in restaurants, in conversation. But they don’t also like Pakistan.
Geelani’s violent politics has made Kashmiris not like themselves much either.
Kashmir is a state of mind. In its tranquil chinar glades through which silver brooks skip along on stones and pebbles, a restless peace waits for its moment. It is waiting for Kashmir to rediscover itself. Srinagar has no desire to become another Kabul.
The ordinary Kashmiri the author speaks of has a strange way indeed of showing that he/she "don't like Pakistan"
-Quami tarana as mobile phone ring tone
-Waving Pakistan flag during the recent WC semi-final
-Cheering Pakistan during the same game and descending into desolation and despair when Pakistan lost
-Celebrating 14th August as Youm-e-azadi
-Often found screaming Kashmir banega Pakistan during meaningless protests.
Srinagaris may not have a desire to become another Kabul, but a desire to become another Islamabad or Lahore? Ye bet yer bollocks many of them bellwhiffs bleeding do.
Let me try and answer with the mindset of a ------Kashmiri
They are azaad and have no grievances with their muslim brethren. Once the valley gains freedom from evil Indian rule the two divided brothers will embrace each other for eternity.
Those regions were never part of Kashmir but were falsely claimed by the evil Hindu Dogra dictator of Kashmir. Those regions rightfully belong to our taller-than-molehill friend.
This is a struggle for "self-determination".
That does not matter and is irrelevant. What matters is the opinion of the majority and since Muslims form the majority of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, they will naturally opt for Pakistan. Anyway who cares what kaafir think
Freedom to establish a daar-ul-islam and sharia. Indian secularism is not compatible with these concepts
I am not making these up. This is a near accurate representation of what has been said by many -----s, Kashmiris, their tosspot leaders and so-called intellectuals.
Obviously geelani's propaganda has rubbed on some people. But not for the majority...like you i also personally know kashmiris and they dont have paki ringtones. Infact i went with one to India-pak match in delhi and he was cheering for India.
Difficult to say who's in majority. It's possible that the pro-Pakistani elements find inordinate time and coverage in media and thus, the impression that they represent most valley waalas. My personal interactions with many over a substantial period of time have failed to dispel this. But as you say you have had a very different experience. Some recent polls also provide some insights.
Mayfair, I didn't answer a similar post from you in another thread.
Mate, elections have proved how many people now want to be part of India. Numerous polls have showed that though they would like "Azadi", they would prefer to be with India than Pakistan. The percentage of those who want to join pak is very very little. Kashmir banega Pakistan was I think a Geelani coined.
The whole Kashmir movement has been hijacked by Pak. When it says they are fighting for the rights of Kashmiris, it actually means we want the entire land for ourselves. No freedom or anything. Typical hypocritical policy.
I have a lot of respect for your posts Yusuf and I can understand what you are saying here. Indeed if many of them participated in the elections it shows some modicum of faith in democracy. But is it entirely Indian democracy? Not very sure of that. Otherwise what is the rationale for someone like Mufti Mohammed Sayeed calling for allowing Pakistani Rupee as legal tender in the valley?
Why have the political leaders allowed the movement to be hijacked by Pakistan so much so that even Omar Abdullah says that Pakistan must talk to mainstream leaders?
It is obvious that they are adressing the sentiments of their constituents. I can cite numerous news reports to this effect.
Elections were held not just in the valley but in Jammu and Ladakh as well, where it's well known that the inhabitants are hostile to any concept of anti-Indianism.
I am not saying that all valley denizens are anti-India-pro-Pakistan. But if many of them are not, then they sure have a very strange way of showing so or they are scared of openly expressing their views since the pro-Pak/anti-India lobby is more vocal and strong.
Omar talks about involving Pakistan because it is the root cause of the problem. They have to stop sponsoring terror and other staged protests/violence in Kashmir.
Pakistan has to be made to realize that it no longer enjoys any large scale support and people have understood it's ulterior motives. The plight of the people in PoK is known to all. They rather stay with India and all the state protection they get vide 370 than go to Pakistan which has followed a policy of dilution of local population in Kashmir they hold. They know where their bright future lies and it's not Pakistan.
Look at the number of Kasmiris who apply for state jobs especially the police. This is what any ordinary man wants. Jobs, homes, good life. Not terror.
but could it because the pak army is facing an all round condemnation both at home and more so internationally, and so under desperation they would want a dialogue going with india in an attempt to project a face that is responsible, unlike the image they have in particular gathered in western media since the start of this year and so what we see might be a temporary pull back on support to geelani and his thug practices, which might otherwise cause an irritant in this dialogue process and on their attempt at having an image makeover.