Indian-American Muslims Mourn Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Saeed
By Kaleem Kawaja, Washington DC
The Washington DC based Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM) mournes the passing away in New Delhi today of Mufti Mohammad Saeed, the chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Mufti Saeed was a veteran Kashmiri and Indian political leader. In the very difficult circumstances of much inter-religious and inter-ethnic tension and the ongoing violent frustrations of the people of Kashmir that often spilled over on to the streets, he maintained very remarkable balance for the welfare of his people and the people of India.
In 1989, Mufti Saeed aligned with the forces of secularism and tolerance represented by Prime Minister VP Singh’s Janata party and provided much stability and Muslim-Hindu harmony in India in very difficult circumstances of ongoing religion based conflict in the country. For a variety of reasons Pakistan has continued to foster intense terrorism in Kashmir and also in India to satisfy the lumpen extremist elements in their country who hate India to the core but who are too weak to be able to cause any harm to India. In their frustration and helplessness they foster terrorism in India along the lines of religion.
In these circumstances and under the intense pressures of big international powers even well meaning Indian political leaders like VP Singh and Mufti Saeed have found it nearly impossible to bring progress, development and peace to their people in India and in Kashmir. For mainstream Indian Muslim leaders it is a nearly impossible act since extremist Hindus and Muslims want to keep the pot boiling endlessly.
As India’s Home Minister under Prime Minister VP Singh, Mufti Saeed tried his very best and was significantly though not fully successful. In an act of sheer insanity the terrorists in Kashmir kidnapped Mufti Saeed’s daughter and forced him to release some hardcore terrorists from India’s jails in 1989.
Recently in another deft political maneuver Mufti Saeed formed a coalition government with BJP in Jammu & Kashmir state. During his short tenure he was successful in persuading the hardline BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi to award a big financial package for the development of basic amenities in Kashmir that the desperately poor Kashmirs badly need. He also kept peace and balance with the Pro-Pakistani militants who continued to indulge in overt anti-national militancy. However, overall Mufti Saeed was again successful in reducing turmoil and maintaining good development in Jammu & Kashmir.
If he had lived out another 5 years he would have brought significant welfare to the poor state of J&K, especially the Kashmir valley. Mufti Saeed’s demise is a bad sign for the people of Kashmir as his successor may not have his immense political and administrative abilities.