Kashmir dwarfs leaders!

Kashmir dwarfs leaders!

Sheikh Abdullah down all the leaders got dwarfed including the subcontinental leaders-Nehru and Jinnah and Gandhi!

In an interesting take of Kashmir issue, JKLF chairman Yasin Malik put forth an interesting facet of it-the magnitude of the problem is so huge, implied Malik, as to dwarf the leaders, not only of Kashmir, but of the subcontinent-across the borders. Since the issue remains unresolved so far, withstanding attempts in different time periods by different leaders, Malik’s take could be conceded as a fair assessment.

However could it be taken as an admission of failure of leaders or a cruel verdict of history, given the complexities of the problem? To take it as the failure of leadership might be too hasty a conclusion, so too the take of cruel verdict of history-a fatalistic conclusion, hence we might be closer to being fair by taking both as partially true. There has been partly a failure of leadership, and whenever or wherever the leadership put the foot forward-situations, circumstances, forces of history conspired to put the process back, upsetting hasty conclusions.

Sheikh Abdullah down all the leaders got dwarfed concluded Malik-including the subcontinental leaders-Nehru and Jinnah. I might add Gandhi to that list. As Indian forces landed in Kashmir, Gandhi, the apostle of non-violence, justified the Indian undertaking in Kashmir. Of course he said it in the context of general Indian take of borders of J&K being violated. There are many analysts who justify neither of the two negatives-border violation and the landing. Two negatives do not make a positive, runs the argument. But then you may have to contend with Indian stand of 27th October landing being 26th October accession related, standing in complete contrast with Pakistani stand of calling into question, accession as well as the landing. Added to it is the denial of its part in 22nd border violation, attributing it to native rebels, hence not a violation on its part.

The year of 1947 brought forth Abdullah in power, as he noticed that the seat he occupied did not have indigenous stands, he tried to break free, unable to comprehend that his freedom was limited to the length of the rope which tied him. 1953 defined the limits of freedom, it proved to be watershed. Abdullah’s attempted foray to break free culminated in long prison terms with short interim relief spread over 22 years (1953-1975). At the end of it the magnitude of problem had dwarfed him, forcing him to change course. Creation of Bangladesh enhancing Indian vistas in the region followed by bi-lateralization of the conflict from being a multi-lateral undertaking, conversion of ceasefire line to ‘Line of Actual Control’ [LoC] influenced the change. There are stray reports, unsubstantiated though of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto taking his hands off Kashmir, also of Farooq Abdullah conveying Pakistan’s helplessness on his return from a visit to Pakistan in 1974. However in the same year, he appeared publicly with Aman Khan promising to stay with forces of resistance. Sheikh Abdullah had a string of successes and failures, a string of revised strategies. Ultimately the problem dwarfed him or consumed his roles and reversal of roles.

1975 proved apparently extraneous events like creation of Bangladesh in eastern corner of the subcontinent could influence events in Kashmir. It also proved comprehensively that forces of resistance soon assert with a greater emphasis, negating Indian efforts to make the fait accompli stick. Luring back Abdullah to the Indian fold did not bring up India-centric polity in Kashmir. Resistance in one form or other continued until it got big in 1989-violence came to fore, throwing up the likes of Yasin Malik. Whatever the level and intensity of militancy, that too became gradually investment with diminishing returns. With that Malik and his ilk thought of alternatives. SAS Geelani and the traditional politico-religious resistance forces related to Mirwaiz came to fore, working in unison or on separate platforms in different phases, however fuelling the resistance. Yet again an extraneous event-growth of what west likes to call ‘Islamic militancy’ was what Kashmir resistance got labelled with, as such the label suited those who wanted to set it back in its stride.

Kashmir issue getting related to these extraneous events adds to its magnitude, it adds to the stakes involved, thus any stakeholder trying to break free in an effort to resolve it gets dwarfed. And Malik is right; it is not only the Kashmiri leadership which could be perceived to have failed, but a string of other subcontinent leaders-Jinnah, Nehru, Vajpayee, and Musharraf. One might argue Nehru’s inclusion in it, though there is a different explanation to support the contention. Nehru, as A.G.Noorani, the famed writer, notes felt that Kashmiris would eventually adjust to and accept the Indian take-a fait accompli if not wholehearted acceptance-that too did not happen; thus substantiating how Yasin Malik views it. Nehru wanted to solve it   wholly India-centric way; the present situation testifies that it dwarfed a leader of his stature. Kashmir is a cheque, which I can cash anytime’ Mohammad Ali Jinnah is widely believed to have said. Owen Bennet Jones, for long BBC’s point man in Pakistan attributes another version of it to Jinnah ‘Kashmir will fall like a ripe fruit in our lap’. Neither was the cheque cashed, nor did the ripe fruit fall in his lap! The gathering storm of subcontinental factors, the international power play concerned about the northern subcontinental frontier bordering two big states-communist Russia and China wanted the bigger country-India to take charge, thus checkmating Jinnah. Yet again extraneous elements were responsible for dwarfing him.    

Fatalistic tendencies have overtaken people en-mass clouding scientific reasoning. It has led to socio-political tendencies coming to fore, sustained by faith in very difficult, seemingly unending historical period, stretching over centuries of politically suppressive situation. Even with giant strides in acquiring skills-fallout of literacy, scientific reasoning suffers due to untoward circumstances. Hence fatalism is the predominant socio-political trait. A few years back, during annual ‘URS’ of Hazrat Makhdoom Sahib (RA) known as Sultan-al-Arifeen (Sultan of knowledgeable) I was passing through lanes and by lanes of downtown Srinagar, the centre of Kashmiri ‘Intifada’ a little surprised, as crowds going up the hill were surprisingly quite thin, contrary to the great rush during the annual event. ‘URS’ is the period of remembrance and offerings at the shrines of Sufi Saints throughout the subcontinent.  On the hilltop one of the prime Sufi saints of Kashmir is resting in eternal peace. Unable to reason it out, suddenly an old friend happened to cross the path. Straightaway I asked him the reason, as he happens to live nearby. The answer was surprising, with food for thought. The wit said perhaps people are a bit dismayed! Dismayed! How could you say that? I asked. He paused and explained the popular belief of our ‘reshvear’ (land of Reshis) as Kashmir is called. As per this belief the file of Kashmir rests with Sultan-al-Arifeen, year after year people have been going up the hill to pray for deliverance out of that predicament, Kashmir has over the years turned into. It is possible, continued my friend, that people have just lost hope, as our Sufi Sultan, the one loved and revered is yet to arrive at a decision and sign the file! He looked deadly serious, the way he narrated it send a chill down my spine. I was transformed into another world; a world of belief, so simple yet so profound!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi
[Reunion is subordinate to survival]