And for us Iqbal provided an intellectual impetus

Today is 9th November. This day often reminds me of Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal not as the greatest poet of the East for his ‘creative engagement with the conceptual paradigm of modernism at a sophisticated philosophical level through his prose writings, his Urdu and Persian poetry which is the best embodiment of poetically articulated thought, squarely in the traditional continuity of Islamic literature and perhaps the finest flowering of wisdom poetry, or contemplative poetry or inspired poetry in the modern times,’  but for his founding of the Kashmir struggle for freedom. It was he and Muhammad Din Fauq with many other intellectuals of Kashmiri origin settled in Lahore who played a significant role not only in sowing the seeds of    freedom in Kashmir (J&K) but also providing intellectual content to it. It was this intellectual content that became the driving force for young Kashmiris studying in Lahore and Aligarh to struggle against the oppressive and tyrant autocratic rule. The birth of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference and it fighting a battle royal against the feudal autocracy cannot be understood in isolation of this intellectual input. It is in itself a subject that once the struggle against autocracy came under the influence of yet another intellectual movement that it not only lost its contents but gave birth to what is called as Kashmir tragedy. Had the movement for freedom being insulated  against the communist influences perhaps the state would not have not  soaked in blood for past sixty two years. It is matter of study for scholars in the Universities how Kashmir movement lost its moorings and ended in a tragedy. However, his poetry and prose writing undoubtedly will continue to be the lodestars for the generations to come.

 But today in the emerging political scenario in the state I feel there is need for as good an intellectual input as was provided by the Iqbal and his associates to Kashmir struggle at its inception. There is a lot of trumpeting about a dialogue between New Delhi and Srinagar. The pro-right to self-determination Hurriyat Conference (M) has indicated that it was going to join hands with Pro-India, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The three may form a coalition and convince New Delhi for holding fresh elections in the state during 2010 for some “interim arrangement”- that could be precursor for the “self-rule” or “autonomy” or a sausage of the two.

Given to the experiences of the Delhi Agreement and Kashmir Accord of 1975, the question that needs to be pondered over and debated by intelligentsia in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan is that can any political sausage become a permanent solution of a problem that has been a thorn in the neck of people in the sub-continent.  It is true that Kashmir intelligentsia largely lack intellectual honesty and many in the tradition of Dr. Faustus have bartered their souls for having a “glimpse of the Helen of Troy”, but there is a still a section of them whose conscience is intact and this section of intelligentsia needs not only to call a spade a spade but contribute for finding a lasting and just solution of the festering problem.

In view of failure of months together track two talks, indirect or direct talks between Kashmir leaders and New Delhi there is need as very rightly  put by a “pro-freedom leader” for creating a core group of intelligentsia in the state  that could debate and deliberate upon the framework for any kind meaningful  talks- ‘proximity’, ‘track-two’, triangular or  trilateral.  To see peaceful resolution of Kashmir problem there is need for developing a greater understanding in intelligentsia in India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

There has been a section of India and Pakistan intelligentsia who has remained deeply associated with the developments in the state during the past twenty years. Some of them for their deeper association with young Kashmir leadership had become most popular names in Srinagar Press.  The names that remained in circulation for longer times in Srinagar media were  Kuldip Nayar, Rajinder Sachar, Tapan Bose, Sumantra Bose, Bharat Bushan,  OP Shah, Gautam Nevlakhi and  Anagana Chaterjee. The credible voices from New Delhi that visited Srinagar besides protesting against the human rights violations in the State by and large identified themselves with political leadership that was open to ideas and had shown some flexibility for finding a solution of Kashmir problem. Some even worked hard for breaking the impasse on Kashmir with the Hurriyat Conference and leaders outside it and also with Pakistan. Many worked as self-appointed envoys of New Delhi and some with a brief from the Government of India had meeting with majority of top and second wrung leadership of the state. It cannot be denied some of these intellectuals retain their good will in the state. 

     
This hold true about Pakistan as well. A section of intelligentsia in that country also has remained deeply associated with the developments in Kashmir.   Mushahid Hussain Sayed, journalist turned politician has been amongst very few Pakistani intellectuals known in the academic and intellectual circles of Kashmir. He has a significant role to play in Kashmir affairs. He attracted the attention of Kashmiri intellectuals in early nineties for his writings on Kashmir in a Pakistan National Daily that he edited. Other Pakistani intellectuals who  often  talked about Kashmir were    Prof Khurshid, Prof Iqbal Cheema,  Zahid Malik, Naseem Zehra,  Dr Shirin Mizari and Mr. Nizami of the Nawa-e-Waqat group.  Besides them there was  a host of former diplomats who not only talked about Kashmir but also wrote in Pakistan and other international press about the problem.  Majority of these intellectual identified themselves with what is termed as the “Kashmir Cause” and raised their voice against the happenings in Kashmir. But  these intellectuals after the former Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf  came  be up with his four point formula preferred to maintain silence on Kashmir. He  discovered a new group of intellectual like Nejem Sethi to support his vague ideas for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.

The Indian intelligentsia that by and large were off the  Kashmir scene after New Delhi was engaged with Pakistan on track two for finding a solution of Kashmir started reappearing in Srinagar after the July-August 2008 agitation that had seen millions converging on the streets of Srinagar. In the wake of these development that reestablished their contacts with Kashmir leaders espousing the cause of right to self-determination. Some prominent New Delhi based non-governmental organization reinitiated their activities and held seminars and conference at Srinagar.  Some see New Delhi’s renewed initiative in Kashmir as cause of the efforts made by these New Delhi based intellectuals and interlocutors.

It is a fact that there exists variability of perceptions amongst the Indian and Pakistani intellectuals on the resolution of Kashmir dispute and each group has been looking at it from a different vantage point but what has been encouraging is that each of the groups is no shyer of talking about the dispute. It will be too wrong to say that   intellectuals of the two countries are watching the developments in the South Asian region as mute spectators.  The Kashmir Diaspora organizations like the Kashmiri American Council, Justice Foundation London, World Kashmir Freedom Movement, Kashmir Centre Brussels and many other organization by organizing international conferences and bringing India and Pakistan intellectuals and opinion makers face to face with each other have made a good contribution in bridging the gap between them. It is a true that a lot more needs to be done for bringing in greater understanding amongst them that could pave way for ending uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir and wading of clouds of nuclear war from the sub-continent.

Now when there is lot of talk about dialogue between New Delhi and a section of Kashmir leadership let me reiterate what I had written a couple of years back when New Delhi had succeeded in attracting some “pro-freedom” leaders for participating in the elections and fielding proxy candidates, “   One needs to understand that something more than “a shallow truce or a patchwork arrangement” needs to be worked out. The key line of the intellectuals of India and Pakistan can be in the words a Kashmiri intellectual, Mohammed Yousuf Buch, “That Kashmir Dispute cannot be settled by the United Nations but it will never be settled without the United Nation”.

To find out a lasting solution for Kashmir problem that would be bring in lasting peace in the region the intelligentsia in India, Pakistan and Kashmir will have to pool their idea.

(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)