An open letter to Shah Feasal
Mr. Shah Feasal,
As you are entering the realm of politics under the constitutionally laid out Indian democratic process, I would like to share some of my thoughts on what your politics should be about. I hope you will take it in the right spirit.
I remember the time when you suddenly appeared in the political realm through social media route by tweeting some report with the tagline “Rapistan” in 2018. If not for your illustrious academic achievements of being an MBBS turned IAS topper from Kashmir, the tweet might have been lost in the daily chatter of social media world. I am very sure you had made up your mind when you sent out that tweet that you will be entering into politics because it was a calculated political tweet and you knew how would the system react to such shenanigans from a serving bureaucrat. You used the tweet as a launchpad for yourself to enter the murky world of Indian Politics. There is nothing wrong in that. At least you chose a real issue, we have a fair share of politicians using all sort of lies, cheap comments and outright repulsive statements to do their politics.
I, for one, was waiting to see when and how would you enter politics especially when the rumors started floating around that the state parties were lining up at your door to invite you to join their party. I must say I was relieved when you announced a few days back that you will be floating your own political party.
The mainstream parties in J&K state are the biggest culprits in taking the state to the situation it finds itself in today. They have build dynasties in the name of democracy, they have played on the sentiments of people to remain in power, they have covertly/overtly supported the separatists and terrorists to create an ecosystem of mistrust, fear and alienation, they have neglected their primary responsibility of governance and addressing people’s aspirations while filling their own and their ecosystem’s coffers. Today, the biggest question for Kashmir is not Independence but development of the state and fulfilling the aspirations of a common Kashmiri. These dynasties made sure that the alternate political leadership does not emerge in the state to challenge their hegemony by subverting the election process for local bodies through threats, boycotts, violence, and other means.
You are certainly one of the good ones, the Indian system has produced. You have been able to reach where you are by going through the grind of the Indian system whether it is the education, bureaucracy or administration. The system might not have produced you but it certainly played a guiding role in making you stand where you are standing. And now you will be entering into another Indian system of electoral politics – the most dangerous of all due to the umpteen pitfalls and temptations it has during the journey to the seat of power.
How do you approach your politics would define whether you will bring a breath of fresh air or the same old wine in a new bottle. I have no qualms about you playing politics with the government in Delhi, after all isn’t what most of the state political parties in the mainland India do. Be as strong a critique of the central government as you want to be but please just don’t play the same old soft separatism politics of the mainstream parties in the state. That might bring you to power but would not change anything on the ground for the people.
Since you have decided to embrace the Indian democracy, I would hope that you would fight with Delhi but not with India.
You have a unique opportunity where you have a certain following owing to your academic and service background and you can change the discourse of politics in the state and bring the fruits of development and progress to the state and its people. Isn’t that the real meaning of independence? I hope you work towards integration rather than separation. I hope you would play the politics of development and performance rather than polarization and violence.
My hopes took a beating when you supported the resolution submitted in Pakistan assembly to award Noble Peace Prize to Imran Khan and praised his leadership. I can understand the temptation to continue playing the same old politics which has yielded results for the political parties and organizations in the state but it will not change anything on the ground if that is what you joined the politics for. Given your background and academic achievements, I believe you must know what is the real power center in Pakistan and what its intentions are vis-a-vis Kashmir but if you still want to play the politics of optics, it would be a complete waste of your capabilities and talent.
I also got a chance to listen to you on the India Today conclave. This was the first time I got a small peek of your political position. Although we harbor different ideologies and opinions, I appreciated some of the points you had raised regarding the need to increase the political space and to address the feeling of alienation among Kashmiri youth. If you really want to address these issues you would have to resist the temptation of playing the old politics and start a new kind of positive politics to fulfill our shared dream of restoring Kashmir to its rightful place of being the heaven on earth.
A mainland Indian citizen