April 1999 News


An Interview with Shabir Shah

18th April 1999

Prisoner of Conscience listening to his conscience - Shah Speaks His Heart Out.

INTRODUCTION: Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) President, Shabir Ahmad Shah, has launched a mission of helping the needy. He distributed 50 lakh rupees among widows, orphans and needy. He has planned to distribute more than a crore among such people and in the second phase will be while touring other parts of the state for the said purpose. Earlier he had announced formation of a trust to run these kinds of activities, but it failed to take of as, Shah says, certain quarters besides the government sabotaged the move.

Besides these activities, Shah is busy in party making and is constituting Democratic Freedom Party units across the state. He believes that a political party should have deep roots and a direct contact with the masses.

Laughing out the allegations being leveled against him regarding behind the curtain activity, Shah says that he believes in and practices transparency. "My doors are open for everyone who talks about Kashmir," says Shah adding that a false propaganda campaign has been launched against him by some agencies and politicians.

In an exclusive interview with KASHMIR IMAGES, Shabir Ahmad Shah speaks his heart out on different issues concerning the Kashmir polity and his own person.

"Leadership has to identify itself with the masses"

KI: You had announced to float a trust to help the needy. What happened to that and why have you decided to do this by yourself?

SS: It was my dream to constitute a trust that would put its full attention towards charitable activities. And I had donated all assets to this trust. But the government and certain other quarters sabotaged this move. Believe me, the respectable persons whose names were suggested for running the trust, were forced by some elements not to join the trust.

KI: Who forced these people not to join the trust?

SS: There are so many ‘Karam Farma' who have a one point programme and that is to oppose me on all fronts.

KI: Different rumours are being spread about you. Some say you are in close contact with New Delhi and some say that you along with some mainstream leaders are trying to topple Farooq government. Any comment?

SS: Whatever I have to do, I do it openly and without apology. I am not scared of anyone to do behind the curtain activities. As far as talking to influential people of India is concerned, I have done nothing behind the curtain. Right from the day I was released from jail, I have said that my doors are open for every one, I am always ready to talk to anyone who is interested in the Kashmir issue. Ours is a strong case based on logic and reason, so why should we hesitate in discussing our point of view in all fora. As far as the rumours regarding my contacts with some Kashmiri politicians are concerned, these are baseless. There are some people who, I don't know why, are scared of me. They are always busy in floating such rumours. But here I want to make one thing clear, these rumours are not going to deter me from my stand. This has always been done with me, first it was the intelligence agencies and now politicians too have joined this nefarious campaign. Why should I try to replace Farooq? Is it the Chief Minister chair for which I have spent some precious 20 years of my youth in jails and interrogation centers? No, power politics is not my cup of tea! People, who have once tasted power, may be interested in it, but for me it is a useless thing. I am in this struggle to help my people out from the oblivion of political uncertainty. I am here to fight for their basic rights and freedom that is denied to them. In this backdrop, dragging my name in some so-called third front to replace Farooq is the creation of some diseased mentality.

KI: Your frequent visits to New Delhi are being viewed as fishy activity by certain quarters. Any comments?

SS: What is fishy about it? I go to Delhi, I meet the people there and discuss the problem with them. I have met three Prime Ministers of India. I have openly argued on the Kashmir dispute. And I will continue this in future too. We are the victims of the political instability that prevails in this part of the world and therefore we alone have to struggle for getting our people out of this trouble. This can't be done by sitting in our cozy drawing rooms. We have to come out of our self-imposed shells and strike at every corner to generate support for our just struggle. Those who want to cash in on the troubles of the Kashmiri people are happy with the status quo. They want it to prevail as it suits their interests. And that is why they are trying to malign me.

KI: If certain quarters, as you say, are trying to malign you, what steps have you taken to check such moves?

SS: My conscience is clear, so I need not to worry. Neither I need to run a counter-propaganda campaign. These people will get exposed one by one as the masses are the best judges and they know ‘Koun Kitna Pani Main Hai'. I am aware of all this propaganda launched against me. Presently some friends have gone to London to serve Kashmir cause. But what are they doing there? Nothing, just knocking at every door and saying, ‘Shabir Shah Bik Chuka Hai'. When I hear of the activities of such people, I say, my foot! I need not license from such people. Whatever I am doing, I do it for my nation, not to appease this agency or that agency. These people are simply damaging their own credibility and nothing more.

KI: Agreed that certain quarters have launched a false propaganda campaign against you, but why has Pakistan too distanced itself from your activities? If Ghulam Muhammad Shah or Mehbooba Mufti issue any statement, they get tremendous coverage on Pak electronic media, but from past two years there is no mention of Shabir Shah. Why so?

SS: (Laughs) I am in this struggle since my childhood. Is it only because I wanted coverage in Pakistan media? Ridiculous! What I am doing, I do it because I feel it as my duty as a conscience citizen of this unfortunate land. Pakistani people are our friends. They feel the pain and agony through which Kashmiris are passing. And as far as the establishment over there is concerned, I cannot see the situation from their eyes, I cannot speak their language, I cannot submit to ‘Jee Hazouri'. I behave like a Kashmiri. It is my faith that the movement launched here is our own. We have to design and redesign our strategies. There is no scope for receiving dictations. That is all I can say in this regard.

KI: Hurriyat Conference called a strike against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Lahore visit. But you welcomed it. Why so?

SS: I have a firm belief that unless and until Indo-Pak leadership comes closer, there will be no breakthrough. When you have to resolve conflicts, you have to a table. If you are not ready to talk, then you have to fight. Now that India and Pakistan are not in a position to wage war against each other, they have no option but to talk. And if they have finally decided to talk on all issues, Kashmiris should appreciate the step. This dialogue process must inevitably lead to a situation where Kashmiris are invited to participate, or else it will fail.

KI: From past few weeks there is much Halla Gulla against the imposition of fresh taxes. Hurriyat says that talking about budget is deviation from the basic stand. What is your opinion?

SS: All ills that are troubling our people are the off-shoot of the underlying political problem. While talking politics, you cannot ignore the economic aspects. Economy, in the present day world, is shaping the politics of countries. We too cannot ignore this aspect. Unless our people are economically sound, they cannot give a stiff resistance to the forces that are oppressing them. People should stand up for themselves in all areas. But frequent strikes are no solution. Strikes help you in democratic set ups only. Here democracy is a forbidden fruit. Strikes only worsen our already shattered economy and dull our educational system. These should be discouraged by one and all. But the leadership has to identify with the masses. If it fails to do so, it becomes irrelevant. Moreover, since leaders too are active members of the same society, it becomes all the more necessary for them to feel the pain and pulse of the masses. Once a leader looses sight of his people, he cannot adhere to his role of representing the aims and aspirations of the people. Therefore if the government does anything anti-people, be it on the economic front or in any other sphere, to oppose it becomes inevitable for everybody.

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This Archives is Maintained by Md. Sadiq, 1998