Ex-IAS officer Shah Faesal on aspirations of Kashmiris, self-determination and 'sacrifices' made by Hurriyat leaders
Faesal said the right to self-determination is part of the Kashmir solution and there is a need to rework relations between New Delhi and Kashmir
We need to speak about self-determination .
I don't have the mental strength to join the Hurriyat.
If I form a party, its fundamental aim will be good governance.
Nobody can deny the role of the separatists in Kashmir
Pakistan is an important stakeholder in Kashmir.
Shah Faesal, the first Muslim to top the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) exam in 2009, created a stir when he resigned from his post to protest the killing of Kashmiris and a lack of "sincere outreach" by New Delhi. On Saturday, Faesal said the right to self-determination is part of the Kashmir solution and there is a need to rework relations between New Delhi and Kashmir. Faesal also said Kashmiri separatists were doing a "commendable job" by facing jail and other hardships. Edited excerpts of Faesal's interview follow:
Could you elaborate on your remarks on self-determination?
We need to speak about self-determination and have a dialogue about it. Self-determination is part of the Kashmir solution. If you are looking at all possible solutions, that is one very important possible solution people identify with.
You're saying the right to self-determination should be a part of overall framework on Kashmir...
Let all solutions be discussed. The right to self-determination is merely one of the solutions.
Are you open to floating a new political party in Kashmir?
I want to meet the people first. I've said that: Let me meet the people first. If tomorrow, people want me to float a party, we could do that. But as of now, I don’t want to divide the vote.
But you're saying you won't join any party...
I've said that as of now, I have no plans to join the National Conference or any other mainstream political party. I have met all political parties.
Are you ruling out joining the Hurriyat?
To be in the Hurriyat, you need a lot of motivation and mental strength. You may have to go to jail, remain apart from your family. For people like me, who do not have that sort of mental strength, it is not possible to join the Hurriyat.
Are you suggesting Hurriyat leaders are making sacrifices?
They are. Absolutely. But let me state this categorically: I don't have the mental strength to join the Hurriyat. However, we can't dismiss their struggle. This is the reality of life.
You're keeping the option of floating a political party open. How would you address the sentiments of the people?
I'm not looking at fighting the next election. Rather, I'm examining the larger picture for the next generation, which grants me a lot of time. If I form a party, its fundamental aim will be good governance. But such a stance would be based on the reality at the ground level. It will be based on the aspirations of the people and will be in sync with those aspirations.
How is your political ideology different?
We need to look at reworking the relationship between India and Jammu and Kashmir and ensure the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are addressed. We have to see to it that the conflict ends and a win-win solution is arrived at for all parties. We have to discuss all possible solutions. My party — when it comes into being — will be filled with people from different regions and with different visions for Jammu and Kashmir.
What do you say about the Centre's outreach to the separatists?
Nobody can deny the role of the separatists in Kashmir or their importance. That's a reality. My fundamental sphere of work would be governance, but our position on Kashmir will be that there is a sentiment in Kashmir and that sentiment needs to be addressed. We will never say it is just about jobs and development.
And Pakistan's role in Kashmir?
Pakistan is an important stakeholder. There have been talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and I hope that dimension is addressed. I have met all types of people in Kashmir. But as I was in service, it was not possible for me to meet separatists. I would like to meet all the separatists and glean their point of view.
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