Remembering Mirwaiz Qazi Nisar, enthralling orator

Mirwaiz Qazi Nisar addressing a rally. Photograph Family Archives.

Aag hai, Aulaad e Ibraheem hai, Namrood Hai
Kya Kisi Ko Phir Kisi ka Imtehaa Maqsood hai

(Tyrants and Flames once more on Ibraheem’s Race Glared
For whom is this new ordeal, By Whose Hands prepared?)

Brave leaders do not make policy responses to incidents. And instinctive leaders do not do what everybody expects them to do. Instead, they surprise. Powerful and instinctive leaders also do not allow others to steal their limelight from the big stage.

It was 22 May 1994, I vividly remember, the trees cheered loud to his roaring voice and the skies wept to his emotions, he began his Eid speech with this couplet of Poet Iqbal. It was the time of early militancy, the early 90s and my beloved leader, Dr Qazi Nisar always gave the deserved honour to the victims through the sturdy usage of his oratory skills. People had gathered for the Eid prayers in Eidgah of Islamabad and I remember every single detail of it. Children from many far-flung villages would come to get a mere glimpse of the much legendary figure, Dr Qazi Nisar. It would be rather fair to say, he never left his audience disappointed.

Despite his self-improvement program, Demosthenes first attempts in public speaking were disastrous, with the audience jeering and laughing him off. He realized that not only confidence but also solid content was necessary to win over the audience.

“Mother, do you think your Sikander (A local slain militant) is still in the training camp, no mother he has left us all, miles away never to return to us,” he said it, and the moment when the vast crowd broke into tears. Many orators would recite the same words but the power of his oration was such that he connected to the emotions of the public and importantly he always spoke out his genuine emotions. Mother I know, he continued, you think he is still being trained at the Hizb ul Mujahideen camp, but mother he is not anymore. I know we have thousands of mothers in Kashmir who do not want to accept the harsh reality, the mothers whose bread earning sons have been shot dead.

Next, he went on to castigate the enemies of unity. History will remember Dr Qazi Nisar undoubtedly for his role in uniting Kashmir under a single banner; Muslim United Front (MUF). He would say, Hizb is my heart, Harkat is my mind, KLF my body and Ikhwan (pre counter insurgency) my soul, anyone who wants to break this thread is the enemy of every Kashmiri.

He other than always emphasizing on unity believed, “Uniting Kashmir is the dogma of my life.” This was the time when dozens of young men stood up from the crowd and shouted slogans reverberating in the whole of Eid Gah, Awaaz Do, Hum Ek hai. The passion was such that women who those days were less seen shouting slogans also stood up and raised slogans to which men answered, Azaadi.

“You are not our enemies, trust me, a Kashmiri mother mourns your death as she weeps the death of her own son shouting, ‘hye! pata nahi kis maa ka Laal tha yeh, Kis Maa Ka Jigar that yeh,” he continued.

The women started wailing to a level where he himself had to address the women separately and then he quoted a famous story of the caliphate era, when a cleric Zubair was killed by the armies of Yazid and then his mother persuaded his only bread earning son to not run away but support Hussain (AS) and the truth. Without exception, the most valuable skill he had was to influence and inspire others.

Hum Jaante hain, Aap ne Humare Nawjawno ko, Humare Bade Commandaro ko Shaheed Kar diya hai, Shayad Kal ko Aap Mujhe bhi Goli Maar ke Qatl kar denge leikin Azadi ki Shama Tab tak Jalti rahegi Jab Tak akhri Hindustani Fouji Kashmir Ki Zameen Chod Kar Chala Nahi Jaata.

The Army men from nowhere cordoned off the Eidgah, loaded their guns and panic gripped all of us, we all awaited a massacre. But such were his skills with his oration, one line and everyone started looking back to the front. Obviously, those traits alone don’t account for his brilliant flair with words and thankfully he offered many other hints. In his stories, aphorisms, parables, and searching questions, he understood balance. Balance is another way we understand the beauty of our language, and use it to add power and glory to what we say

Now he began addressing the Army men directly with his raged voice and in-depth knowledge of Hindu scriptures. He quoted Bhagwat Gita and the Vedas from an Islamic dais was perhaps the first time to have happened. At least in my memory and such was his power that few of the Army men left their shoes and Arms outside the Eidgah and came inside to listen to what Dr Qazi Nisar had to say. The Muslims among them joined the crowd and offered Eid prayers with us.

The man born only to his parents waits for his natural and destined end; the son of this country is willing to die rather than see Kashmir enslaved, and will look upon those outrages and indignities, which a commonwealth in subjection is compelled to endure, as more dreadful than death itself, he continued and ended his speech with the line, I may not be alive, but my words will act as amulets, if ever my story is written.

On the fateful day of 19 June in the same year, 1994 we lost him to the bullets of unknown assassins and post that my eyes still await a similar sight, my ears await a similar voice, I have tried and searched, but I have only failed.

Could it be that while he had all the great qualities that make an orator brilliant? He was somebody we are told, twice, in as many pages and in almost identical language, that “Dr Qazi Nisar was a speaker like none other.” He still continues to be discredited with what he possessed through the rhetoric. But rhetoric is a dark mirror through which the historian, armed with cleaning rag and Windex, erases the truth.

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Mir Muntazir Gul is an academician from Islamabad. He was the press secretary of Muslim United Front and a close aide of Dr Qazi Nisar. He operates a group of three schools in South Kashmir.

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