Suicidal Meeting

Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat appears on Kashmir’s political scene once in a blue moon. But every time he does so, his statements end up creating confusion because of being increasingly light on substance and heavy on bad translations (into English) of Persian poetry.  In his latest appearance, he has been defending the visit of a Hurriyat leader, who reportedly discussed government formation with PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed at the latter’s official residence. Two main justifications Prof Bhat has offered are that Mufti was a “really good friend” and “an individual cannot discuss agendas,” a euphemism for the meeting having been personal, with nothing to do with the Hurriyat Conference of which he is a senior member.

Prof Bhat has said that since Hurriyat leaders have been meeting Indian prime ministers and officials, meeting a Kashmir politician should not be an issue. But then, had the meeting been as between old pals, why should it need explaining away in 400 words? The alibi he has sought to project in the media is in itself a giveaway. For any newspaper worth its salt, Prof Bhat’s meeting with Mufti is a scoop, as it happened when the latter is cobbling an alliance with a radical rightwing Hindu party. And the professor has been the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference when it was a united amalgam.

Besides, even if the meeting was totally non-political, it was so suspiciously timed that he should be taken to task by the Hurriyat to send a strong message that its constituents tread every step with care lest it harm the larger interest of Kashmiris.

The Hurriyat (M) must realise that such dubious meetings in the past, and the lame explanations that have accompanied them, have dented its credibility, created bitter divisions among the resistance leadership and disillusioned the people to the extent that politicians like Mufti have almost assumed the mantle of the Kashmiri resistance.

From a different perspective, it could be said that Prof Bhat’s intent was to stop Mufti from embracing a BJP hell bent on decimating even the so-called moderate Kashmiri resistance leadership, the “hardline” segment already bearing the brunt. But even with that seemingly noble intention, the meeting is a terrible mistake, and self-destructive, in that it legitimizes Mufti who has appropriated the Hurriyat (M)’s role. It were better that Prof Bhat spend time revisiting his Hafiz and Saadi, and ruminate on the benefits of silence.