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Politics: After Farooq seeking Chinese help, Mehbooba may look at Turkey

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: As expected, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has not ‘disappointed’ India 14 months after her release from detention: she echoed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent speeches and promised to “take back” what she believed was her dynastic fief, called J&K, from the Indian Union.

Soon after her release in Srinagar late on Tuesday, she sent out an 83- second audio message to her remaining supporters: “Today, I have been released after more than a year. All this while, the black day – August 5, 2019 – continued to assault my soul. I believe, all people in Jammu and Kashmir would be feeling the same way. None of us can forget the insult we were made to face that day.”

And then gave a hint: “Now, we all have to remember… what Delhi Durbar took from us with an illegal, undemocratic decision on August 5, we have to take it back. Thousands have lost lives because of (the) Kashmir issue… we have to continue the struggle for now. I agree, this won’t be easy on any of us. However, I am confident that our courage will help us sail through. I appeal that all the people who have been locked up in prisons should be released at the earliest.”

She will announce her ‘plans’ on Friday, according to her People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leaders.

But in her audio message itself, she left enough hints about what she could do now.

That she could join the Turkish bandwagon, the way the Ali Brothers had joined after the First World War in the early 20th century.

And she has reasons to trust Erdogan.

Addressing Pakistan’s National Assembly in Islamabad on July 17, 2020, Erdogan had reiterated his full support to the ‘Kashmir cause’.

Asserting that Turkey stood with Kashmir, he said what happened in Turkey (in the 1910s-20s) was “being repeated in the Indian-occupied Kashmir today.”

“Today, the issue of Kashmir is as close to us as it is to you (Pakistanis)…our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades and these sufferings have become graver due to unilateral steps taken in recent times.”

She also took a leaf out of a revanchist Erdogan’s recent speech in the Turkish Parliament, in which he hinted at his attempts to restore the Ottoman Empire by taking back countries (like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and others). With this ambition, he has been firing on all cylinders across the Middle East, Africa, and even in the current Armenia-Azerbaijan war.

Mehbooba is probably hoping to cash in on Erdogan’s support to the ‘Kashmir cause’. She might launch a ‘Kashmir liberation movement’ the way the Ali Brothers had launched the Khilafat Movement (1919-24) in India for the restoration of the Ottomans in Turkey, and get Turkish support.

The Abdullahs also claim ‘ownership’ of J&K. National Conference chief Dr. Farooq Abdullah has even sought the help of China for the restoration of the Articles 370 and 35-A and “special status” of the state bordering Pakistan.

Then why should not Mehbooba, who also claims the same property, seek Turkey’s help?