The noted constitutional expert A G Noorani in a recent article commented that the main problem in Kashmir was the disunity of its leadership of all shades. He called it “Kashmir’s Tragic Divide”. In the mainstream as well as in the separatist camps. According to him the “Unionist” leadership is preparing to fight elections while as the “Separatist” leadership is not even on talking terms with each other! But, the moot point is whether there is any genuine, honest, sincere, and steadfast leadership in Kashmir at all? In fact, Kashmir’s main tragedy has been the absence of a sincere, honest and upright leadership right from 1947. Their tallest charismatic leader instead of setting an example of honesty and uprightness for the future generations ditched them in a whirlpool of corruption and dishonesty out of which they are unable to come out. They had dreamt of someone like the “Lion of the desert”, Omar Mukhtar but they very unfortunately got a “Lion without a tail”!
The recent disclosures about pay offs to various people including Cabinet Ministers by the Army right from 1947 shows how the political leadership has been manipulated to wean people away from their cherished discourse of freedom which they had been yearning for centuries. The other side instead of supporting the popular narrative engineered it to suit their own goal again primarily with the supply of unlimited and unaccounted funds. Everything seems to have been commercialised in Kashmir. The materialism rules the roost! Kashmir’s two neighbours ensured the growth of only that kind of leadership which would further their own vested interests designated by them as strategic or national interests. Kashmiris figure nowhere except as pawns in the games played by these two perennial antagonists. This atmosphere of commercialisation built upon deceit, dishonesty and greed of materialistic goals has turned the whole situation murky.
A leader is a person of convictions who has a definite goal, a future vision and a definite road map to reach that goal. He shows the way and tries to honestly and sincerely lead his people to that goal which sometimes he may not reach in his own lifetime. Have we so far had such a leader? Firstly, none of the leaders have a definite and clear cut goal. Some want Kashmir to become part of Pakistan. Some want Kashmir to be totally merged with the Indian Union. Others want Kashmir to be totally independent. The people wanting independence also fail to clearly designate which part of Kashmir should be independent? The valley only? The part of the state with India? The entire undivided erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, of course, with a number of unwilling parts? Some want status quo as it suits them. The first thing for a genuine leader would be to define in real practical terms what would be beneficial to Kashmiris in the long run. Ultimately, they want to live with honour and dignity in a peaceful environment. The leader has also to be sure that the people he is trying to lead accept the goal and are willing to follow him to reach it.
Next to defining of a clear and practical goal and the path to reach it, the leader himself has to be steadfast and not waver on the way. Unfortunately, most of the Kashmiri leaders have been wavering both in defining the goal and leading the people on the path to reach it. The so called mainstream leaders have always been wavering from Bijli, Panni, Saddak to Autonomy, Self-rule and so on. Had they been honest, sincere, and true Indians by conviction, they might have at least given good governance and made the living conditions of the common people better. Incidentally, even Delhi did not allow such a genuine mainstream leadership to grow. As a result, these leaders have neither given good governance to the people to improve their daily lives nor have they been able to contribute anything to the solution of the basic political problem. Their one point programme has been to somehow usurp power and gather as much money and material things as they could till their “Sun” shines! In the other camp, there have been sincere, steadfast, and honest leaders of conviction but most of these have been liquidated by one or the other side to safeguard their own discourses.
A columnist recently mentioned that the leaders won’t fall from the sky but they have to grow here from the ground. Of course, the leaders grow among the people. However, when there are two antagonists with diametrically opposite ideologies trying to promote their own discourses it is very hard for the genuine and honest leadership to grow unless there is some Divine intervention! The Israelites during their bondage in Egypt had been pinning for a “Deliverer” and finally God sent the “Deliver”, Moses, who grew up in the lap of the Pharaoh. Moses brought the Israelites out of the Egyptian bondage to Mount Sinai. While he was on top getting the Ten Commandments, these people sinned in the sight of the Lord because of which they were made to wander in the desert for 40 years till the sinning generation was removed. In the case of Kashmiris, the “Moses” himself committed the sin which may make them wander in the desert for 400 years!
This vagueness in the goals and the wavering of the leadership has totally confused the people. They do not know whom to follow to get relief in their daily lives and to reach the ultimate goal of total emancipation. They are churning in the whirlpool of corruption. There is free for all in every sphere of the society. The “Truth” has been banished from Kashmir! Some of the leaders whom they trust are not going beyond shut down calls and pointless marches. The only hope is the new generation which does not carry the baggage of the earlier leadership. There are innumerable attempts targeted even at this new generation to push them into the same mud and filth which has destroyed the earlier leadership. The confused and paralysed people have genuine hopes for the “Deliverer” rising out of the new generation and the Almighty God won’t disappoint them provided they change their basic character by speaking the “Truth” and standing by it regardless of the consequences.