The theatre of the absurd

That sums up the whole scene of Kashmir politics.

Recently Farooq Abdullah a prominent political figure in Kashmir ruffled many political feathers by offering support to Hurriyat Conference. A strong advocate of finality of Kashmir’s integration with union of India, Farooq not only surprised, but amazed many Indian politicians.  Kashmir politics is so complicated that even Unite Nations for almost seven decades was unable to find a reasonable way-out. Pakistan and India too suffered of this complex situation and in future there seems no light at the end of long tunnel of hostilities.

Undoubtedly, Kashmir and Kashmiries are the worst victims of this intricate political scenario. After 1947 Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah then undisputed leader of Kashmiris was the only political force that could steer the Kashmir politics. However, after 1953 coup d’état several other political non-entities became compulsive stake holders in Kashmir politics. This situation lasted till Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1975 (by then misunderstood by most of his detractors as irrelevant) joined back the political arena of Kashmir with several political compromises and later surprised all by sweeping 1977 assembly elections. With Sheikh’s reinvigorated political capability all premeditated political parties and politicians lost relevance before towering personality and politics of Sheikh Abdullah. Though, after his death in 1982 all irrelevant politicians again started resurging; find some space for themselves and give a tough time to Sheikh Abdullah’s political successor Farooq Abdullah.

Second political coup against Sheikh Family in July 1984 was sponsored and commanded by none other than an influential member of Sheikh Family. Sheikh Abdullah’s son-in-law late Ghulam Muhammad Shah ousted Farooq Abdullah, thus a new era of multi-party political scenario and alliances started shaping in Kashmir aggressively.

However, with change in his style of working and manoeuvring proximity with central political system Farooq Abdullah managed to gain the lost ground and held the fort along with his son till new political experimentation patronized from top led to debacle of Sheikh dynasty in 2002 Assembly elections. In 2002 a new regional Kashmir centric political party People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stormed Kashmir and an era of coalition politics made inroads. In between Sheikh Abdulla’s death in 1982 and National Conference downfall in 2002 there were several political incidents and misfortunes in Kashmir. March 1987 election was bedrock of political watershed and discontent in Kashmir. The brewing anger within Kashmiri people snowballed into a political dissident and huge armed rebellion that has not yet calmed down even after more than two decades of turmoil.

PDP after its formation in 1998 gathered support not only by exploiting shortfalls of NC rule, but explored a new idea of restoring some semblance in Kashmir politics by floating the slogan of Self-Rule as against NC’s idea of Autonomy. PDP moved little further by overtly or covertly wooing the separatist. Even after being mainstream political party PDP leadership vigorously pleaded inclusion of Separatists (read Hurriyat) in any kind of talks. Their plea for having talks with Pakistan concurrently gave them an edge and the party managed to get itself to ‘lesser evil’ category. In a charged atmosphere of nineties even a lesser evil in Kashmir politics was a blessing. So, PDP managed a smooth sail. Undoubtedly, PDP leadership in power tried to implement their agenda vigorously, but Kashmir politics being not that smooth created many hurdles. In the meantime political wilderness taught NC and its leadership a harsh lesson.

Mastering tricks of Kashmir politics NC too learned to live with coalition mantra. Particularly the younger Abdullah—Omar Abdullah out witted PDP and managed to grab power in partnership with Congress Party in 2008. Thus powerless PDP left with no other option got back to its beaten track of soft political approach towards Hurriyat and all other stake holders of Kashmir unrest. Particularly, its firebrand leader Mehabooba Mufti tactfully highlighted plight of Kashmiri people, their sufferings and again advocated inclusive politics at all levels. Thus making a comeback!

2014 elections and BJP, PDP coalition raising many eyebrows in Kashmir rendered NC politically irrelevant. However, the recent unrest turned tables and NC’s leadership showing some political nerve started not only courting Hurriyat, but Farooq Abdullah surprising everyone moved a step further by advising Hurriyat to get united and enjoy NC’s political support. What a shocking politics? In this absurd theatrics of Kashmir politics, PDP and NC are taking turns to enjoy and exploit Kashmir politics with no end to miseries of Kashmiri people.