Shah Faesal, the doctor-turned-bureaucrat-turned-politician, Sunday launched his political party ‘Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM)’ amid a crowd of around 3,000, mostly comprising of people from Bakerwal community, at ‘Gindun’ park here in Raj Bagh.
Faesal was accompanied by the former Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Shehla Rashid, businessmen Feroze Peerzada and Baldev Singh Raina and other scholars, as they all announced their joining the party.
Faesal, who arrived almost two hours late to his own show, began his speech reciting Surah Asr and said the holy verses “summed up” his life.
He spoke for around 24 minutes, during which he mostly talked about his decision to switch careers and the challenges he has faced since then.
In a typical politician’s avatar, Faesal, who once was the IAS poster boy of India, made tall promises including resolving the complex geo-political issues of Kashmir if voted to power.
Faesal was also carrying his party’s ‘vision document’ which listed 29 objectives, most of which are similar to boilerplate clauses in manifestos of Kashmir based political parties.
For instance, the first objective says the party “shall pursue peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem as per the will and aspirations of the people of J&K.”
The vision document’s second objective is “Look-Up North”, which aims at reviving of the traditional silk route to revive centrality of Jammu and Kashmir, a demand lingering for the last many decades.
The document mostly focuses on involvement of youth, women, Kashmir diaspora and endeavor to campaign against “evil influence of money power and muscle power”.
Apart from the social issues, the objectives talk about “re-orienting education and research towards the demands of fourth industrial revolution and arrival of artificial Intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology.”
After speeches by party’s new entrants, which too began with holy verses, Faesal spoke about the alternatives he shuffled through after quitting civil services and his decision to float a new political party in Jammu and Kashmir.
“After quitting IAS, many political parties approached me and even offered a mandate for parliamentary seat. During that course of time, people badmouthed me, which opened my eyes and forced me to take a right decision. Youth came to me and said that joining hands with political parties whose hands are bloodstained was wrong,” he said.
After spending 10 years in civil services, Faesal said, his “diagnosis” of restoring peace in Kashmir through development was wrong.
“I was of an opinion that being a doctor I had better chances to serve people. Later, I qualified IAS examination and spent my 10 years in the system. But I realised that being a doctor, my diagnosis of peace only through development was wrong.” he said.
“Peace is not possible until problems of youth are solved. The motive cannot be achieved till the bloodshed is ended and modesty of our mothers and sisters is safeguarded,” he said.
Faesal, who claimed his party will function in accordance to humanitarian politics, said they will work to end corruption if voted to power.
“A decision was taken 170 years ago when our entire nation was sold for 75 lakhs Nanak Shahi rupees. Since then we have been treated like animals and the indignation we experienced is still with us. The first thing that you will see is that we will end the corrupt system here and restore our dignity in public services and offices,” he said.
“The intention is to give a new politics to the state which has seen only miseries for the last 70 years. This party is not a region or religion specific. I want to send to everyone a message of friendship. Our politics is incomplete without the dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits,” Faesal said.
On harsh reactions from state based political parties, the former IAS officer said “new ideas always face criticism.”
“We have created a platform for youth and now those who offered me a mandate are blaming me as an agent of RSS and BJP. I often cite example of Imran Khan and Arvind Kejriwal because their faith never shook. Imran Khan won election after 22 years and he is still being called as military’s man,” he said.
On the occasion, former JNU student leader Shehla Rashid said the prevalence of different laws for Kashmir forced her to take a political path.
“We have no problem with laws but they should be uniform for all. We need roads, electricity and water but with dignity,” she said.
Calling women to join the party, she said the party will pave way for resolution of Kashmir issue.