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Peace Watch » Editor's Take, Kashmir-Talk » Edward Said’s Writings and Kashmir

Edward Said’s Writings and Kashmir

Some years back  in my column Punchline published in Greater Kashmir on Monday’s , when I wrote there is no Edward Said on our side to tell our tale   with all its objectivity to the world it hurt ego of some “intellectual” friends.  Sitting on higher pedestals, floating on the crests of authority they believed that I was belittling their standing as “intellectual Jupiter’s”. The intention was never to demolish the castles of   make-believe but to emphasize the need for telling our tale to the world more effectively and efficiently.

Since then scenario has change a bit , to an extent a couple of Kashmiri writers have made their presence felt in important academic, literary and journalist circles in the world  and there is a promise in the air that few more are on their way to the world of books at the international level.  The day does not seem to be far away when our writers, for the similarity of the two tales Palestine and Kashmir – one said and one yet to be told in its fullness,  will tell their tale   to the world Said’s way.

I think, it is for the similarity in the two tales that I often find Said’s writings relevant to our situation. Few days back, a news item in Srinagar newspaper about Pakistan High Commission inviting some important Kashmir leaders from two factions of the  Hurriyat Conference and JKLF to New Delhi for talks with the visiting Pakistan Foreign Secretary attracted public attention. Ostensibly, there was nothing new in the invitation; for almost two decades, the    ritual   has been   religiously going on. In fact, history testifies that even Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and his lieutenants during their Plebiscite Front days have also been visiting the Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi. But, this time news emanating from the Hurriyat office  talks that roused   curiosity this meeting that  reminded me  of  two essays, ‘Waiting’ and ‘Where Do We go from Here?’, from Edward Said’s  collection of essays ‘The End of Peace Process-Oslo and After. He had seen ‘no point in being too enthusiastic about the narrow results of these talks, which he believed clearly mapped out.’ For long, this also has been holding true about India-Pakistan talks on Kashmir.

The word of mouth rife within   the Hurriyat circles   suggested that the leadership was in know that the visiting envoy was going to inform them about his government’s decision of putting the Kashmir on the back burner and ‘seeking their cooperation for the same.’  Through statements issued to press  before the meeting, the conglomerates had made their apprehensions about the talks with Pakistan envoy public.

Some opinion makers, columnists and social activists within Pakistan known for their predilections like former APHC Chairman Mr. Bhat have been de-legitimizing the  UN resolutions on Kashmir   and building opinion against the ‘dispute’ through various mediums including print and electronic medias.To do so some Pakistan satellite channels hosted special programs.  Who these opinion makers are is a big question  and if they articulate, the views of the PPP led government or people of the country.

If one looks at the list of nineteen journalists that have been “bribed” by businessman Malik Riaz and have received “record payments”, luxury cars and property at least ten amongst them have been in forefront in ‘delegitimizing’ Kashmir problem. Senior journalists like Najam Sethi and Hassan Nisar have been vociferously asking the   governments that Kashmir was no more “beleaguered” country’s cup of tea and it should  forget it  forever.  These journalists are critical of the founding fathers of Pakistan for their Kashmir policy. Moreover, very subtly they have been opposing the very idea of their own country. Number of video clippings on you tube suggest this. True  after the exposure of “saleability” of top ranking journalists with ‘Geo taking prize with largest numbers’ and list including what a website described as “nationalists” , “liberals” and “fundos”, people of Hassan Nisar’s tribe have lost their estimation in the public eye. Some websites have been alleging that some   top Pakistani journalists and social activists are on the payrolls of foreign governments. Who know how many more skeletons are going to tumble down from the cupboard of Pakistan media. Some time back in it’s  ‘the Alyona Show the Russian Television hosting   Anushay Hossan, a Bangladesh author, commentator, writer and activist based in Washington came up with a story that President Obama had “pledged” fifty million US Dollars for Pakistan media to ‘change mindset of people of the country and to further the interests of USA in Pakistan in particular and region in general.’ .

It may be questionable, if media barons and ‘motivated’ journalists would be able to mobilizing the public opinion their way but in the building scenario, I see talking about  Edward Said’s two essays  relevant to our situation.

In his essay ‘Waiting’, he talks of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot,  talking about   all sorts of interpretations that have been adduced to the play  he writes,   “but  the main thing for me is that it is all about  waiting, about unending expectations, about the moment  that comes before something which itself never comes but  which in the process reduces everyone to frozen state of clown –like, pathetic banality in which only  limited motion is possible in virtually the same place.”  Said, referring to the various interpretations illustrates his point of view by quoting from Constantine Cavafy’s poem “Waiting for the Barbarians” and Noble laureate South African novelist J.M. Coetzee novel  also called “Waiting for the Barbarians”. The Waiting for Barbarians has a bearing on our situation. Discussing the dynamics of ‘waiting’  and its implications  he writes in such a situation ‘every citizen is in fact encouraged to flatter or somehow placate  the ruler no matter what disasters he flounders in and out of, most intellectuals and journalists accept the principle of self-censorship except at moments when regime goes too far in totally unacceptable restrictions.’ In such ‘ruinous’ situation he sees the only way to combat failures is in ‘developing a counter-hegemony against ruling hegemonic powers,’ a Gramsci concept.

It is not Edward Said’s essays, ‘Waiting’ and ‘where do we go from here’ only in which he says  that, ‘the main thing is that a set of unbendable and un-negotiable principle should be articulated to which negotiators must be held,’ that are relevant to us.  In fact, of most of his writings   have lessons for enabling us to counter dominant narratives and articulate people’s narrative with all their genuineness,

( Column was Published in Greater Kashmir on 9-7-12)

Filed under: Editor's Take, Kashmir-Talk · Tags: , ,

4 Responses to "Edward Said’s Writings and Kashmir"

  1. Kashmala says:

    Why United Nations are not apply the resolution on Kashmir issue which are passed by its on Gen Assembly?

  2. Ansa Israr says:

    Why United Nations are not apply the resolution on Kashmir issue which are passed by its on Gen Assembly?

  3. Nighat Hafiz says:

    Public opinion is a social force with a climate that could be changed with propaganda through media. Journalists play a great role. We cannot expect clean journalists in a corrupt social order. Opinions are build, rebuild, changed, rechanged and guaged scientifically. The field is vast for people who want play games to make issues, events and political thought suitable for them. Corrupt journalists often pay a heavy price by getting killed when the job is done…books are written after their death as a token of compensation..Nice piece with poetry in politics.

    1. Always look for comments from friend, they serve as lodestar.