More Personal Stories, Less Political History

  • Zahid Fayaz
  • Publish Date: Jan 24 2017 9:42PM
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  • Updated Date: Jan 24 2017 9:42PM
More Personal Stories, Less Political History

                                                                     Illustration: Book Cover 

The book offers more of personal stories than the political history of Kashmir as witnessed by the author


Professor Abdul Ghani Butt has always been a fascinating character of our political spectrum. His hold on vocabulary (cutting across languages), his oratory skills, and his brilliant body language has always fascinated people across the political divide. Interestingly Professor Butt used to lead "revolutionary" politics and later also began to talk about "constructive mature" politics. When his autobiography “Beyond Me” was recently published, I was eagerly looking forward to read it.

I had heard that Professor Butt is a treasure house of knowledge when it comes to our turbulent phase of political history. His witty remarks and one-liners would always point towards a rich knowledge of the political history and resistance politics in Kashmir. I thought that once I grab the copy of his autobiography, those treasures about the unknown aspects of our political history would unwind and open up like the gates of some treasure house. But once I began reading the book, I was somewhat disappointed.

No doubt a leader has his personal life, but once he decides to pen down his autobiography, he must know that people around him are more interested in knowing about those aspects of his life which have to do more with collective will, rather than how and when he began to study, the colleges he was transferred to, the personal friends he made, etc.

Butt’s autobiography “Beyond Me” doesn’t lack insights about the political life of valley. But they are few and far in between, and more or less thinly drawn in the sketch of his personal life. There is some valuable information which we get but it never meets the expectations a reader has from an autobiography of a political personality.

Nevertheless, let's give some benefit of doubt to Professor Butt. After all this volume deals with that part of his life when he was not that active in the political Dangal of the state. But leaders must avoid (as far as possible) secondary stories (vis-a-vis nation) and focus on the primary stories. This volume unfortunately is dealing mostly about these secondary stories (concerning his personal life) and is less about the primary story of Kashmir politics.

This volume of “Beyond Me” is full of "philosophical wisdom" and "heavily tuned" words, but unfortunately it offers little when it comes to the political information. On a lighter note, Geelani and Butt are, ideologically, political opponents (even though they have been great friends in the past). But there is one common thread between their autobiographies. Both have focused heavily on personal stories. Geelani's autobiography is full of quotes from Syed Maududi's works and that of Butt, full of philosophical rhetoric. And in the midst of all this, truth remains undiscovered and, sometimes, even trampled.

Let's hope Professor Butt won't stretch his series of autobiography like that of Geelani sahab in three-four volumes. An inquisitive reader expects the next volume to talk more about the real issues and real stories concerning Kashmir politics.

On the book cover, Professor Butt sums up what he’s trying to do in the book: “Weaving yesterday's wavering with fragile threads into tomorrow”. Let's hope the second volume does that more effectively.