Dithering Leaders, Determined People That explains the whole leadership paradox

In eighties, I was swayed!So where hundreds of thousands on watching the documentary hosted by Orson Welles, ‘The Man Who Saw Tomorrow’ based on the predictions by sixteenth century French astrologer Michel de Nostredame, Nostradamus.

The man is ‘credited with having’ predicted many major events in the world.  The film projecting Nostradamus as seer and sage with immense power that enabled him to foresee and predict had a slant, as someone has said, ‘rather slanted to the projection that affect the United States and its allies directly at the time of the films inception.’  Somehow, word had travelled across the valley that the film predicts the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. People copied cassette of the film, circulated from home to home, and watched in groups and batches. The   viewers   identified some Arab leaders like Muammar Qaddafi in the film. However, there was no direct or indirect reference to Kashmir in the film. Some people endeavored hard to relate one or other anagram in the film to Kashmir and its resolution.

These were comparatively times of political quietude in the state. Only a few muffled voices demanding implementation of UN resolutions or resolution of Kashmir problem were heard. The electoral politics in fact had sucked into its vortex   directly and indirectly every big and small leader and political or religious-cum-political organizations. In fact, there was rat- race amongst leaders of all hues and shades for entering into the legislative assembly.  The objective behind mentioning the film and people looking for   predictions in it about Kashmir during quite times is to suggest that it is an innate desire in people during all situation- quietude, disquietude,  insurrections or ‘street-anger ‘to see ending of sixty five years uncertainty   according to their wishes and aspirations.

It is interesting to note that this intrinsic desire is not and has not been subservient to the whims and fancies of the leaders and political organizations that often have been changing like the unpredictable weather of Kashmir. Understanding the phenomenon of people’s aspiration not synchronizing with the wavering ideologies, and ‘whimsy-thinking ‘of leaders does not need a ‘straitjacketed study’, even looking into the chronology of events reveals that neither shifting international situations nor changing postures of leaders or winding of organization have shaken peoples political beliefs.  Even jaundiced historiographers cannot deny the historical reality that Kashmir tragedy is not   making of its people but of diverse historical forces that shaped the history of the South Asia after the departure of the British. That the problem was born with the birth of India and Pakistan as Independent dominions and dithering Maharaja Hari Singh added complexity to it and brought the two newly born dominions on a collision course.

To quote British Historian Alastair Lamb the last British Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten ‘compounded the problem, right at the outset of his term’.  Looking at the Kashmir problem as a manifestation of ‘incomplete partition’ the British historian, blames the last Viceroy failing to ‘pay adequate attention to those problems for the future of the sub-continent inherent in the nature of the state Jammu and Kashmir. ‘He sees the ‘consequences of this oversight having cast a shadow over entire process of decolonization in the Sub-Continent and to damage not only the two successor to the British, India and Pakistan, but also the future of the influence in Asia of Britain itself’.

Whatever factors caused or contributed to the birth of the problem, people at no point of time lost faith in its resolution, even when leaders betrayed their confidence.  Kashmir leaders had, have a bad history of oscillating between extremes. True, of all the leaders Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah has influenced the contemporary history the most but even his vacillation did not blur   people’s vision of their goal instead he distanced himself from the people. History testifies that his lieutenants with all their carrot and stick policies and socialist facades could not change silent majority’s political beliefs and ideology. These have been as sacrosanct as sacred religious scripture and have always resisted any tampering. The political movements in Kashmir are classical examples of people’s movements not inspired by leaders but born at the spur of the moment and later on led by leaders. It can be illustrated right from 1931. The role of leaders in itself is a case study for scholars. 

 Even after 1975, when not only the Plebiscite Front leaders reneged from its political beliefs but wittingly and unwittingly most of the leaders dwarf and tall joined them, people did not divorce their beliefs. The 1977 elections in the state when analyzed dispassionately, the Indra-Sheikh Accord and the birth of Janata by all stretch of imagination seem to be part of the same process targeted at delegitimizing people’s belief in their aspiration. The Janata bandwagon with all organizations jumping over it apparently launched to    fight Sheikh by his three of his former lieutenants very tacitly   endorsed the Accord. Sucking every leader directly and indirectly in it, the electoral politics during seventies and early eighties largely strengthened the ‘dominant discourse’but it did not succeed in altering the political narrative.

Kashmir narrative is not and has not been leadership constructed but people oriented. Of late, some small time leaders have been talking about the narrative having lost its relevance in the change 9/11 international scenario thereby suggesting not to nurse anymore the aspirations they have been fondling for past sixty three years.

There can be no denying that Kashmir is located on World’s geo-political fault line. It is another debate if its location has been an asset or liability for the resolution. The question that stares at the face of every analyst are when has not been Kashmir being out of the ambit of international politics. The cold war had a direct bearing on Kashmir and in fact it added complexity to problem than the 9/11 happenings. In fact the post 9/11 situation and US Afghan 2014 withdrawal that I believe hold a promise need to analyzed in detail.

(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)