Mr. Lone, Pakistani Zindabad slogans won’t work; focus on real issues, leave theatrics now

Pakistan Zindabad slogans reverberated in Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly for the first time, something which even firebrand Hurriyat Leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani did not do even when he was elected to the state legislature. His colleague late Abdul Gani Lone too never crossed the red line as legislator. But what prompted ex-Speaker Mohammed Akbar Lone to shout Pakistan Zindabad slogans in the state legislative assembly, that too on a day when two Jawans lost their lives to the bullets of the terrorists, a few kilometers from the assembly complex. Army and Police were engaged in a gun-battle with terrorists in Sunjawan military camp while NC’s Mohammed Akbar Lone was shouting Pakistan Zindabad slogans and the party in power, BJP was shouting Pakistan Murdabad slogans. The BJP MLAs were up on their feet protesting against Pakistan in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. Now, the question is why Lone raised the slogans in the assembly? A conspiracy theory is already on the air. Debaters who appear on the national channels have started saying that Lone’s action was deliberate and part of the larger conspiracy against the Indian state; something which even Lone would be laughing at. Not only he, but those who know the background of Mohammed Akbar Lone and his nationalistic credentials are convinced that whatever lone did was spontaneous and in reaction to what the BJP legislators were doing inside the house. And what raised the political storm was him defending the act that he did inside the assembly. He defended slogan shouting by saying that he was a Muslim first. “I am Muslim first and then, an Indian or a Kashmiri,” is what Lone told the media. He even tried to connect Speaker’s statement about Rohingya Muslims with his outburst. He said that he could not control his emotions when he heard Speaker Kavinder Gupta, who is from BJP talking about Rohingya Muslims being responsible for the terror attack on the Sunjawan military camp. Whatever the reason but Lone’s defiance shows how he values the ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan politically. Both working President of NC Omar Abdullah and President Dr. Farooq Abdullah have condemned as well as disowned the statement. This is what they were expected to do. They did it within minutes of being informed about the act of their MLA, a seasoned politician. Lone should not have breached the red-line. He is an elected legislator and has served on several important positions in the past. He knows the constitution well and as he has been saying himself, he is among those who have been holding the Indian Flag high in Kashmir valley where it is not easy to even claim being Indian. Let us not be under any illusion. Let us accept that there is sentiment with Pakistan in Kashmir and we have not been able to bring any significant change in that sentiment. Lone is right that carrying Indian flag in Kashmir valley is not easy but does that mean, shouting Pakistan Zindabad slogans would help. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. If the BJP legislators are yet to be come out of opposition mood, he should find other means conveying them that they are party in power and cannot go on doing what they used to do in opposition. Lone should understand that he is affiliated with a party which contested elections in the year 1996, when most of the mainstream politicians preferred staying away from valley due to the prevailing environment. His party leaders faced bullets. Workers were killed in cold blood for holding both the National Conference (NC) as well as Indian flag. None was spared. And it was being done at the behest of the Pakistani ISI and Army alongwith their touts in Kashmir valley. NC workers and leaders were the main target of terrorists in Kashmir valley. And if Mr. Akbar Lone feels, Pakistan Zindabad would turn the tide in favour of NC in Kashmir valley, he needs to be told that the younger generation which constitutes majority of the voters are not impressed at all. A look at Facebook and Twitter accounts of young Kashmiris especially those from his constituency Sonawari explains all. They are cracking Jokes at his slogans shouting bravado. They are not impressed at all. They have not forgotten what Mr. Lone did during his tenure both as Speaker and later, as Education Minister. So, Mr. Lone should stop worrying about Muslims of the state and better, focus on his constituency. And if he feels so strongly, he should resign and join an NGO or some charitable trust or if possible some separatist group, which is espousing the cause of Muslims, both Kashmiri as well Indian Muslims. And when he would step out to find out, he would find none. So, better Mr. Lone stays focussed on his constituency and desist from putting a question mark on the sacrifices made by the workers and leaders of National Conference (NC) for the state as well as nation.

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