Out with Moderate Mirwaiz

The quake tested everyone. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has failed.

The true character of individuals and organisations stands out most in times of adversity. In the case of Umar Farooq, the Mirwaiz of Srinagar, it stands exposed.

Local and state governments are usually ill-equipped in the area of disaster management. The local and state governments of India’s Jammu & Kashmir state even more so — not because of some unusual incompetence on their part but because, since 1989, the machinery of governance has been systematically undermined on the ground by terrorists. The Hurriyat not only covered for these terrorists but applied itself to translate the resulting situation into its political agenda of driving a wedge of distrust between ordinary Kashmiri people and the Indian state.

After last week’s quake, the Moderate Mirwaiz first criticised corporate India for not opening purse-strings wide enough. The speedy and untiring response of the Indian security forces — originally sent there to fight terrorists — found no mention or thanks in his public sermons. Neither did the actions of the Hurriyat’s political constituency — the jihadi groups — who have continued to launch terrorist strikes, not just in spite of the earthquake, but because of it. They smelt an opportunity when they saw that the army psychologically and operationally committed to humanitarian operation.

The Moderate Mirwaiz smelt an opportunity too. An opportunity to drive the wedge down deeper between the Kashmiri people and the Indian nation. Hitherto the Hurriyat was telling the Kashmiris that the Indian government cared not for them. Now, the Umar Farooq is telling them that the Indian people have no heart for Kashmiris (linkthanks: Laks). If the likes of the Mirwaiz are allowed to pass off as the voice of the Kashmiris, then one cannot blame the Indian people if they are left a bit tired by the non-stop negativity.

Consider this. Umar Farooq portayed every act of commission on the part of India as insignificant or cynical. So the Indian response is “tepid” and “cold”, its offer to help Pakistan cope as “propaganda”, and its refusal to accept foreign aid “putting pride before the Kashmiri people”. And similarly every act of omission diabolical or niggardly. He would like to have the frontlines thrown open so that Indian Kashmiris could receive or deliver relief to their Pakistani counterparts. With so much damage having occurred in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, it is unclear what relief the Mirwaiz expects to receive from there (hopefully not from these people), but India could well have sent sent its helicopters over to help — if only Musharraf had allowed that. He does make a point about allowing direct telephone connectivity between the two sides, but he lacks the bona fides to demand this, not until he says something to the effect of ‘engaging in terrorism is wrong, especially so during such times’.

Umar Farooq may be think himself a moderate. But his words and actions during Kashmir’s time of crisis weigh against him being considered as a person of integrity, honour and a sense of responsibility that is called for in someone who intends to discuss the weighty matter of the future of Kashmir with the Indian prime minister. At his level of political sophistication, he is better off as a spokesman for Pakistani interests in Kashmir and an apologist for the manner in which it exercises them. Nothing more.

4 thoughts on “Out with Moderate Mirwaiz”

  1. Nitin:

    Well-written;the Mirwaiz accusing others of political opportunism while wallowing in it himself is amusing. Or, it would be, were it not for the gravity of the situation in J&K.

    While the Mirwaiz may well entrance the foreign press as well as the urban Sunni secessionists, I think the work of the Indian Army will not be forgotten by those on-the-ground who were the beneficiaries of the Army’s efforts. I expect that come election-time, there will be a large turnout in the earthquake-affected areas–even more than in the last assembly elections–and vote will go against the PDP, but not against the Indian Union.


  2. As well, I think Indian government should go a step further and
    accept any PoK person with relatives in J&K as long as they sign
    a form of NDA (non discloser agreement), basically renouncing pakistani
    citizenship and accepting that J&K is an integral part of India. that would cripple not only the separatist but also major leverage from pakistan.
    After that we can send Farooq on a one way trip to pakistan.
    The issue of plebiscite would be finished once in for all. If it takes
    bribing them, I am for it. After all pakistan is not going take care of them.
    This kind of opportunity will not come again.

  3. Nitin:

    A NYT story on the governmental response to the quake on both sides of the LoC has the expected criticisms of both govt’s but–very much unexpectedly, given the NYT’s lefty slant–praise for the Indian Army’s initial rescue efforts. The key para is appended below and the article is at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/16/weekinreview/16seng.html

    ….there is not much love lost for the Indian Army in Indian-held Kashmir. Still, it has been widely credited there for its initial rescue efforts, including the loss of a half-dozen of its men in one operation on Wednesday. Even Mr. Farooq acknowledged their sacrifice. “The army especially did help our people in far-flung areas,” he said. But he was quick to add: “The presence of the Army itself is not acceptable to Kashmiris.”

    So saith the Mirwaiz!!! As I pointed out in my earlier comment, the facts-on-the-ground count for a great deal, forcing (even) the Mirwaiz to acknowledge the Indian Army’s efforts. The Mirwaiz is dancing as fast as he can, poor fellow.

    Most of the rest of the article focuses on the Pakistani Army’s (relatively poorer) response to the quake in PoK.


  4. argod, great idea. Actually I would go further and allow people of PoK to settle in J&K with relatives or friends – dispense with the details of Indian and Pak citizenship at this time – can be tackled later. Let’s serve these folks in their hour of need – good things will happen as a result.

    Regarding the Mirwaiz, he’s not even representative. The fool has some support in some parts of the Valley, and is the current favorite of the pak establishment known for it’s frequent and often irrational u-turns. Yet he pretends to speak for the Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu, the non-valley Muslims, the Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan, and the Buddhists of Laddakh.

    We need to ride this guy as long as he’s useful, and discard the fool before his sell-by date. Judging by his statements and actions in the last 2 weeks, that date may already have passed. He would be well-advised not to overdo his brinkmanship – or he might end up as relevant as Geelani is today.

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