18.5.10

A Kashmiri Victory?

A Kashmiri Victory?
by Farzana Versey

Express Tribune, May 18


Had Dr. Shah Faisal's father not been killed by “unidentified militants”, he would have been just another exam topper. It is a tragedy that such a Kashmiri is being showcased as the ‘other’ face of the region. This is pigeonholing and Shah Faesal is consolidating the viewpoint. He says he wants to show the world that Kashmir does not have a monopoly over the enterprise of terrorism. Even if we ignore the curious choice of words, there is still the issue of his being hailed as a hero for the wrong reasons.

Dr. Faisal is the first from the province to top the Union Public Service Commission 2009 examinations. This ought to be cause for concern and not celebration. And how has he transformed “a hurdle into a moment of opportunity”? Like him, several people survive with the scent of death after losing members of their families. This ongoing devastation has been prevalent since the past two decades. While he was giving interviews, there was a gunfire battle and two civilians and two security personnel were killed in Kupwara, where his father was murdered in 2002. There are many little kids who have seen their parents being shot dead. Some are poor and get sold for a pittance in the jihad market; some have the blood congeal in their memories.

When Faisal says, “I had only two choices — to be bogged down or to stand up and face the challenge”, he forgets that living behind closed doors in curfew streets that prevent essential supplies from reaching does not pose a challenge. When a boy is caught in a skirmish over flag-hoisting, he does not get bogged down. He just does not understand what is going on. These are wounded people living with shrapnel and solitude.

It is sad that instead of pursuing medicine, he opted for the Indian Administrative Service. “I felt that I could not have made a change by being at a hospital and wanted to work with the government.” Doctors are needed, not bureaucrats. What can a young person who has just cleared his exams hope to achieve in the government? Party equations change every few years, files pile up. One might deem his stance to be idealistic, but it is the opposite. He could have gone with his medical kit and expertise to the rural regions or to inaccessible places.

In the past so many decades no one has managed to bring about any change. If he is sending out a message, then that message will only reach the bosses in government. He will be made their slave and their symbol: the good guy whose father got killed by the bad guys. Faesal’s father was a teacher and there is no information about his ideological stand. This is the position that suits the powers and makes it convenient for them to assume that the victim was pro-establishment.

They like to give pacifiers, so Faesal has a good chance of getting a prime posting. Late last year a woman shot down a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant, who wanted to marry her, by grabbing his rifle after a four-hour hide-and-seek challenge. Rukhsana Kausar told the media, “I thought I should try the bold act of encountering militants before dying.”

She was made a special officer with the Jammu and Kashmir Police Force. She had never used any arms before and said she just mimicked what she saw on television. Without any training, she got a sop. No one seems bothered that such rewards can demoralise those who are deservedly awaiting a promotion.

The zeal to consecrate anyone who can be remotely seen as an enemy of militancy legitimises the false belief that terrorism is the norm and these chosen ones are the exceptions. Shah Faisal’s misfortune, as well as his achievement, is personal and not political. However, by being co-opted as the ‘other’ face, heroes like him end up unwittingly offering the other cheek.

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Published in Express Tribune

12 comments:

  1. FV, there is also the "greater good" argument in the context of the communities of people like Dr.Faisal and Rukshana -- that is, could it be that Dr. Faisal and Ruksana's personal achievements be an indicator that they are good role models for lot of young people who have no role models (or bad role models like the Hurriyat or any of the groups that provide diplomatic and moral support to extremist groups, while safely staying out of the violence they help perpetrate).

    Given all the death and violence in their lives, is it wrong to try and motivate kashmiris to empower themselves and take possession of their own future without picking up a gun or killing anyone at all?
    Are there better ways to motivate people in a democracy to aspire for a less violence-prone and more productive life? Is it wrong to try and provide role models from within their community? If not these two, who would be an appropriate role model in this situation? Serious question -- not just being argumentative.

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  2. Your Article inspired the Bappi Adams in Me. Nosh Farmaiye.


    Faisal, the Kashmiri Vs Faisal, the Kashmiri

    My Islamist heart wails copious tears,
    Wants to believe that change’s not near.
    It moans the words that Faisal spoke,
    That shameless, ingrate, faithless bloke.

    Faisal! Rue your slavery ‘they’ will buy,
    Promote you high-up to ‘Paaacify’.

    You innocent, thoughtless, spineless lamb,
    Can’t you see the bania’s plan,
    So willing a tool in the Brahmin’s hand.

    Can’t you see the hardships forced?
    So what’s the challenge that you rose.

    Learn from Faisal across the ‘line’,
    Brave and Handsome and views Divine.
    He gave his golden spoooooon away,
    And lives in the penitentiary in USA.

    Oh he, the Glorious martyr of faith,
    So tiny you, in his shadow rake.
    Never shall the Jihad die,
    Mumbai, New York, Beslan pry

    Adopt the ways of ‘Pure’ ‘Fair’ n ‘Tight’,
    Blow a bomb on a square on Right.
    That is what best represents you Fight,
    Degree Vegree all so Trite.

    I will be posting this on my blog:http://hinduleft.blogspot.com/2010/05/wailing-kashmiris-choice.html.

    Regards,

    Tamasic Pravrati

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  3. Al:

    This is the problem - we imagine that the Kashmiris are all illiterate and not capable of doing anything except being inspired by terrorism. Let us see down the next few months what these two achieve - one has got education, the other killed a terrorist. I had written earlier, had she killed a besotted cop would the govt have honoured her? She would have been arrested.

    There are doctors, teachers, engineers and depending on the relative existence of peace they could be jobless.

    Incidentally, the leaders of the JKLF and the Hurriyat are educated; their wives are educated. And the GOI will and does speak to them and not IAS exam toppers or young women who kill terrorists.

    Btw, the Hurriyat or any of these leaders have been killed too.

    Who would be the appropriate role model? I did not have any. Then there are millions who are inspired by people from different fields. I do not believe a Kashmiri has to be inspired by a Kashmiri. Why this ghettoisation?

    I did state that his is an individual achievement and good for him. By making an example for him it only serves to draw attention to the grandiose gestures of the 'masters'.


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    Pugnacious:

    Thank you. And a nice one this...but really it the comparison is odious. Perhaps you should send it to the UPSC guys - they have no idea they have become heroes!

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  4. Thanks FV for your kind words.

    I agree that the comparison was odious. But it was not unwarranted. The fate of two Faisals’, both of same ethnic origin, underpins the path the two countries have taken since partition. Your article would have been marvelous had it taken the effort to point this out to Pakistanis. Instead, you chose to deconstruct the achievements of Dr Faisal, and made it sound as if it was out of petty careerism.

    The example of Dr Faisal, even if in a small way, has energized the self-image of Indian Muslims, which has been at the receiving end of negative social perception for some time now.

    Even a cursory detour of the IM blogs and the urdu press; or even a random chat with the local abdul, highlight the effervescence in the community emanating from doctor’s achievement.

    In short, the idolization of Rukhsana & Dr Faisal is not because they are brave or super-intelligent, which they are. It is because they had the wisdom to choose the right path.

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  5. FV:
    "This is the problem - we imagine that the Kashmiris are all illiterate and not capable of doing anything except being inspired by terrorism. Let us see down the next few months what these two achieve - one has got education, the other killed a terrorist. "

    I agree that the fact that Dr. Faisal will be throwing away his training as doctor is not a good thing. Yes, we need to see whether Dr. Faisal has managed to create greater change by becoming a bureaucrat, and I am afraid I am going to have to argue against myself here....he is going to achieve far less as a bureaucrat in the Indian system than he would have achieved as a doctor. Basically, he would have to do something truly heroic in terms of his job to save as many lives than he would have as a doctor in the state of J&K.

    "There are doctors, teachers, engineers and depending on the relative existence of peace they could be jobless."

    Even if there is peace, there is evidence to show they could still be jobless -- I think the problem in this case is that Dr. Faisal is a rarity in his state, where there are not enough doctors to go around. And now the state is one doctor less and one bureaucrat more, seems like lose-lose situation all around. I do not have much faith in bureaucracy's ability to extract the best out of a talented person.

    "Incidentally, the leaders of the JKLF and the Hurriyat are educated; their wives are educated. And the GOI will and does speak to them and not IAS exam toppers or young women who kill terrorists."

    That is because the Hurriyat is bought and paid for by the USA --- the Hurriyat rose into prominence purely because of the India-hating US Undersecretary of state Robin Raphael...and this is also the reason why the Hurriyat leaders wear rolex watches and are able to freely travel abroad and are not afraid to openly support Pakistan's cause while living under Z-category security provided by the Indian Govt.

    "Btw, the Hurriyat or any of these leaders have been killed too."

    The JKLF and Hurriyat consists of some self-serving demagogues who have no intention of supporting the existence of J&K as a secular state --- Yasin Malik explicitly stated as such in an interview in Rediff a few years ago. Umer Farooq and the Other Hurriyat worthies have also shown their contempt for democracy and democratic processes, so the only reason the GoI engages these people is because not engaging them will cause more problems for India.

    The views of ordinary Kashmiri citizens are being overridden by the Hurriyat and JKLF demagogues.

    "Who would be the appropriate role model? I did not have any. Then there are millions who are inspired by people from different fields. I do not believe a Kashmiri has to be inspired by a Kashmiri. Why this ghettoisation?"

    Is it the rest of India that is ghettoising Kashmiris? Isn't it the Kashmiris who are now claiming that they have a separate identity from the rest of India? I have read interviews with ordinary Kashmiris who are inspired by Indians, but they do not have the politcal power and pull of the JKLF and Hurriyat demagogues.

    "I did state that his is an individual achievement and good for him. By making an example for him it only serves to draw attention to the grandiose gestures of the 'masters'."

    If we ignore the masters (the GoI in this case), then the question of how much the individual can achieve by their own talent becomes important, and this is where it is more likely for a Doctor to put his talent to good use than a bureaucrat who likely to have his talent tangled up in red tape.

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  6. FV, I do not consider Kashmiris as all illiterate, but having seen the way they have treated the Kashmiri Pandits who have as much right to live in that state as the rest of them. Even if the benefit of doubt is given to the average Kashmiri, there are clearly elements like JKLF and Hurriyat that feed off foreign donors to live their fancy lifestyle while the rest of the Kashmiris suffer.

    It also does not help the image of the average Kashmiri to see people like "Rage Boy" appear every time there is some riot or violence in Srinagar.

    Also, the Kashmiris in Srinagar get a lot of attention and are also the primary troublemakers in Kashmir -- they suck up most of the significant aid given by the Indian government to the state of J&K.

    I agree with you that Kashmiris other than the troublemakers in the Hurriyat and JKLF need to be given a voice.

    I will point out that Kashmir is a geopolitcal prize because it sits at the intersection of all major powers in the region, which is very valuable to outside powers that would like a foothold in the region by establishing a proxy power that supports their agenda -- this is where the Hurriyat, Pakistan, and JKLF etc. come into the picture. There is a lot of free money available to anyone who can play along with the agenda of today's world powers to gain a foothold in Kashmir.

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  7. http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/bsf-involved-in-kashmir-violence-canada-27016.php

    So are we to believe that the canadians and americans are really that concerned about Kashmiris? Surely there are a 100 other places in the world that have more serious human rights violations.

    The fact that their heart bleeds for people who are living in areas of high geopolitical value should say enough of their motivations. This is the same canadian government that has refused to provide justice to the victims of Kanishka bombing, and they have the audacity to claim that the BSF is violating human rights -- these same worthies have been shielding Khalistani terrorists for decades.

    If Kashmir was not the gateway to Central Asia for India, none of these worthies would be interested if the Kashmiris lived or died.

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  8. Pugnacious:

    I do believe that there has been a difference of paths taken, but that was not the idea behind the particular article. The Shahzad thing is of quite another dimension and there was just too much of it right then...though I realise there is never too much of a bad thing.

    Instead, you chose to deconstruct the achievements of Dr Faisal, and made it sound as if it was out of petty careerism.

    Wrong. I was deconstructing the establishment attitude towards these 'achievers'. Had he topped the medical exams, would there have been such jubilation?

    The example of Dr Faisal, even if in a small way, has energized the self-image of Indian Muslims, which has been at the receiving end of negative social perception for some time now.

    My point is why do Indian Muslims need this? You look around and there are several achievers from the community. Social perceptions do not alter the way people see a group because the media is feting them.

    The 'effervescence' you talk about is regarding the wave. It is a manufactured feeling of goodness. I guess I am not the local Abdul.

    In short, the idolization of Rukhsana & Dr Faisal is not because they are brave or super-intelligent, which they are. It is because they had the wisdom to choose the right path.

    And had the electronic media not shoved the mic in their mouth you would never know about those who are practising in hospitals, teaching, in politics, writing, or even as unskilled labour. This is demeaning to the majority who do these and are not sucked into terrorism. How can you talk about their wisdom? Rukhsana shot a guy who happened to be a terrorist. It was self-defence. Faisal took the UPSC exams, studied well, did well and opted for the IAS. He should get that medal and that's it.

    Had he chosen teaching or started a travel agency, my views would have remained the same.

    Thanks for the dialogue, though.

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  9. Al:
    The problem is that we have begun to look at this Dr Faisal issue as a lone one, almost isolating it. He is not the only doc, and not the only bureaucrat. Why is he a rarity? Does he have anything to show yet?

    Phew…are you saying that the guys of the JKLF and Hurriyat are educated because of US money? Robin Raphael played a game, because at the time the situation had got worse than it ever had been. It is interesting that despite the Z category security Abdul Ghani Lone was killed. It was Farooq Abdullah’s government that had reduced it although he as touted as a moderate.

    As for them having no respect for democratic institutions, yes, they don’t. Insurgency movements don’t. The GOI has not been able to win over the people.

    The ghettoisation etc is a topic that cannot be discussed in this context. I do not agree with you at all on any of these issues – ghettoisation, role of the extremist organisations, Kashmiri Pandits…have written enough about them.

    You post a link and then wonder why Canadian sand Americans are more concerned about the Kashmir issue. I don’t care about them, but there is no who has suffered more. They are stuck on 9/11, and many people do not see terrorism beyond that. What do you say about it?

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  10. FV:"Phew…are you saying that the guys of the JKLF and Hurriyat are educated because of US money? "

    Well, the US funds Pakistan (which has no money of its own to fund anyone) and Pakistan funds all the myriad groups in J&K....once you give people money, they are usually smart enough to get education or whatever they need.

    Well, Z-category does not equate to invincibility of the protectee - AG Lone was killed because he refused to toe the Pakistani line.

    "As for them having no respect for democratic institutions, yes, they don’t. Insurgency movements don’t. The GOI has not been able to win over the people. "

    If the GoI has not been able to win over such people, then it is not for lack of trying. Check out the statistics of central govt. aid provided to Indian states and Kashmir tops the list of such aid, all of which is money collected from the citizens of the rest of India. Is the GoI supposed to capitulate to the religiously motivated separatist movement for people to pretend that "the govt. is finally listening to the Kashmiris?" If not, what? Withdraw troops from the J&K? If so, who is going to keep the murderous pakistani "jihadis" that are waiting just across the border to create mayhem in India? What exactly has the Indian government not done so far that is keeping all these Hurriyat and assorted US/Pakistan-funded terrorist groups (not insurgents) alive and kicking for decades in the region?

    "You post a link and then wonder why Canadian sand Americans are more concerned about the Kashmir issue. I don’t care about them, but there is no who has suffered more. "

    You and I may not care about them, but if it were not for such "moral and diplomatic support" that ensures that Kashmir keeps burning, the problem would have been solved a long time back.

    Besides, if the canadians twits want to pretend that we are barbarians (The BSF does get pulled up regularly by the Indian government for excessive force and other violations of individual rights), perhaps they should note their brutalization of the Native American population in Canada to Extinction, and heaping further crimes by depriving them of the privilege of rearing their own children.

    "They are stuck on 9/11, and many people do not see terrorism beyond that. What do you say about it?"

    If they are stuck on 9/11, I wonder why they do nothing to go after the perpetrators of the act who are living under the protection of the Pakistani Army and establishment. It has only been a decade (approx.) since 9/11, and all those who provided material support for the crime are still leading happy lives in Pakistan.


    The larger point is that Kashmir is of geopolitical interest to countries that fund the existence of Pakistan -- Pakistan would not last another week if the generous external aid from the likes of US and aid agencies stopped providing them aid. The only reason they do is that Pakistan has a gun to its own head and periodically repeats the line "Give Pakistan money to survive or we will blow our brains out all over your new shoes"....this has gone on long enough to be recognized by diplomats worldwide.

    So just faulting one of the parties involved (the GoI) while ignoring the rest (USA, Saudi Arabia, etc.) that keep the "insurgency" in J&K burning -- by providing tons of free money to pakistan decade after decade -- would be ignoring vital parts of this puzzle, which would imply such analysis is likely to make incorrect conclusions as to what really keep J&K burning.

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  11. I forgot to add china along with USA and Saudi Arabia in the list of Pakistan's sugar daddies.

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  12. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Shopian-doctors-charged-with-fudging-to-defame-security-forces/articleshow/5979908.cms

    FV, so it now turns out that the "Rape Case" was fabricated by employees of the govt. of J&K to hurt the image of the security forces? Doesn't stuff like this hurt the image of the Kashmiri in the eyes of the rest of India? Shouldn't that be countered by counter images/ideas in the news such as the one highlighted in this blogpost? I don't know. Just asking.

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