Naivety our ‘tragic flaw’ We have always suffered because of this

I have come to believe as people we are naïve. Our earlier leadership was naïve. Our contemporary leadership is not a shade better than the old crop. Moreover naivety’ is our “tragic flaw.”It has been but for this ‘tragic flaw’ that despite offering heroic resistance against any kind of colonization – minds or territory, people have been landing in   the troubled waters and the morasses of uncertainties.

 

The story of Kashmir- your story and my story has been that of valor and courage. On all-important junctures of our history, we have risen in revolt against the desperadoes and fought battles against the usurpers. Historically, it would be unjust to     believe that this nation has been accepting cruelty, intimidation and terror as its destiny. I see some ‘commentators’ singing in sync with Walter Lawrence observation that as a nation Kashmiris are Zulum Parasat as nothing but humbug. The “lovers of tyranny” do not rise against tyranny, do not rebel and revolt against authority and do not call for pulling down the castles of authority and towers of hubris. In 1846, when British sold this nation as a merchandise as pointed out by Dr. Abdul Ahad, people did not accept the ‘sale deed’ as fait accompli but offered their resistance, which found a bolder manifestation in 1865 revolt and   took organized shape during thirties with the birth of a major political organization. If one looks dispassionately at the history of this organization, its successes have been for the commitment of the people towards their cause and failures have been for the political ‘naivety’ of its leadership. This organization suffered its first division barely one year after its birth. I have been looking at this division as preamble to what later came to be known as tragedy of Kashmir. The naivety of the leadership religious and political was responsible for this division and subsequent division of 1938 and fragmentation thereafter.
The then leadership undoubtedly was bubbling with enthusiasm and patriotism.  With all intensity, it felt pain of sufferings of the overwhelming majority of the people. However, it did not understand the machinations of members from the privileged sections of the society that had gained entrance into their ranks as sympathizers.   These “sympathizers”, passing as ideologues engineered one after another division in the first major political organization. Kashmir leaders true to Aristotelian tragic heroes were ‘eminently good and just, yet who failed not for vice or depravity but some error or frailty.’ History of Kashmir leadership is dotted with political faux pas’; I do not attribute these faux pas’ to their insincerity but to their naivety and lacking political hindsight. Had our leadership political hindsight, they despite realizing their mistakes would not repeat them. The protagonist of movement during forties even after was like Shakespeare’s   King Lear, susceptible to flattery. His ‘hamartia’ was   listening to empty words and instead of words of sincerity.
Our leadership has not faulted during forties, fifties and sixties only. In fact, when look at the political scenario during past couple of decades it has always “stumbled” and failed to “see”. If one sees 2008, as many a leader prefer to call as a transition to nonviolence movement the leadership stumbled during the year and also failed to “see” even in 2010. 
I see the division in the ranks of leadership and their failure to pursue in unison the “people’s cause” to quote     Shakespearian phrase not ‘seeing after stumbling’. I also see it as collective failure of our society. The divisive politics that oscillates between “moderates” and “hardliners” is primarily a tactics to convince others that both have two different narratives, “reducing facts to fiction and reality to storytelling.”The sobriquets of “moderates” and “extremists” for political organizations in the state have been weaved in our narrative as irreconcilable schools of thought. I see it again as naiveté that one political group has been taking pride in being called as “moderates” perhaps without understanding the implications of the word. Samah Sabawal a Palestine writer explains the implication of the word as: 

“A moderate would engage, cooperate, reconcile and coexist but never directly oppose the “power centers”. A moderate would learn to live with status quo and cope with it. Anyone who rejects the status quo and takes action to change it is not interested in peace, is hateful and is a radical.” She asserts that these labels are waved around believing that “people would be intimidated into acquiescence.”

The years 2008, 2009 and 2010, that saw unprecedented mass agitation in the state could be good case studies for any student of political science for understanding how political naivety contributes to disappointing role played by leaders in such situations. Three different reasons had kick started these agitation but a common thread ran through all the three. This thread, was recognized by political leadership, intelligentsia and civil as    the ‘political uncertainty’ that has been looming large for past sixty-three years in the state.

The agitation had brought largest contingent of Parliamentarians to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the situation. Teams of important non-BJP parliamentarians and members of the civil society visited the state more than once and held meetings with all Kashmir leaders. Interestingly echoes of 2010 are still heard in Delhi. July 25, the conference on democratic rights of Kashmiri women organized by half a dozen women was voices were raised for demilitarization of the state was one such example.  Tacitly all the teams   that visited the state recognized that the issue of uncertainty needs to be addressed. The deep down realization with the visiting teams, both parliamentarians and civil society was that peace in the state will continue to be fragile unless the issue is resolved.  Our leadership   failed to   consolidate this opinion to the advantage of the movement instead some “leaders” continued to fatten on divisive politics.  And ironically one group   sinking  underweight of divisive politics out of sheer naivety has been waiting for a call….not realizing that sinking boats seldom attract passengers or touch the shore.
(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)