I don’t mean that in a bad way. Political struggles are not about social media, tweets and facebook posts, ‘of writing that is conceived of and shared within five minutes and forgotten in ten minutes’ but these are stories spreading over decades that have more troughs and less of crests. I think in our case there are no crests at all but troughs and troughs all along. For articulating my point of view on political situations as obtains from time to time, I often draw strength for my arguments from the contemporary history. Some friends do not like my unspooling history. They may be right that in an age of brief attention spans taking recourse to history sounds a bit out of pace. My belief, however, is that history is the ‘philosopher and guide’ for the political struggles that by no stretch of imagination is a matter of brief attention spans. And in our case, for having suffered waterloos at every crucial juncture of our political struggle, learning from history has become all the more imperative.
History has again brought our bus of our ‘urges and aspiration’ at crossroad. There is a lot of talk regarding some decisions being on anvil about future of the state. Is it surmise is a big question but some leaders in the state who matter have been corroborating the reports about the behind the scene development. Some opinion makers have been comparing the situation to that of 1971.
It may be too far-fetched to compare the situation as on date to that of 1971 situation that had unnerved our then leadership. In their nervousness, they had missed one-step after another and ultimately stumbled. It was not an individual or group of people stumbling. Their missing a right step at the right moment was like that of nukes in charge pushing a wrong button and letting loose destruction. Seen in right perspective, the response to the 1971 situation in the region, and the action and inaction of our leadership to the political developments in the state after 1973 brought trains of agonies and pain to the people. I see both the action and inaction of the then leadership irrespective of their party affiliations largely responsible for the post 1990 developments that caused unprecedented deaths, destruction and sufferings to the people in the state. Had not the then leadership in their nervousness betrayed their own narrative perhaps the younger generation would not have lost their cool and a whole generation could have been saved from becoming cannon fodder?
There is not a lesson for contemporary leaders in 1973 situation only that graduated into relegating one of the formidable, well-organized and well-entrenched political organizations into pages of history as a story of political fiasco but the 88-year-old political struggle of the state has many more lessons to offer. I am reminded of a letter that Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the founding father of the Kashmir struggle wrote to the President of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah on 12th October 1933. Quoting from the letter is relevant to the present situation:
“I was happy to read in newspapers about the Kashmir Muslim Conference. I have full faith, all the leaders of the Kashmir will soon straighten their matters. I am praying to God for this and hope he will crown you with success. I was sorry to learn that many an organization have recently sprung up because I have no doubt that your mutual difference will greatly obstruct your march. Unity is the only way through which you can achieve your social and political ends. The Muslims of India have so far suffered only because of the absence of unity among them; its members especially the Ulemas have been playing in the hands of others and are even now playing hands. Any way I pray to God your state may not suffer such an experience.”
Had Kashmir leadership heeded to the advice of Dr. Iqbal perhaps the course of history would have been different. Development that contributed to the perpetuation of tragedy of this land would have not occurred. It was division within the ranks of the leaders that yielded a place for the fifth columnist like Prem Nath Bazaz and some of his alike to sow the seeds of dissension within the Muslim Conference. The dissensions provide ample space for anti-people elements for political machinations of far reaching consequences. Authors like Josef Korbel also attribute the cause of Kashmir tragedy to division in leadership. In his book Danger in Kashmir he writes, “The year 1939 was fateful one for the Muslims of Kashmir. As a matter of fact, the origin of the present tragic struggle can, in a sense, be traced back to those months. Up to that time Muslims had been united through the Muslim Conference.” History very loudly taught us some lessons, right in 1939, 1947, 1953 and then in 1975, but our ‘reluctant leadership’ refused to learn these lesson thus made generations after generation to suffer political uncertainties. True, Kashmir has suffered many ruthless marauders and desperadoes more particularly after the Durranis invaded the land but in the recorded history of Kashmir, there is no parallel to the sufferings caused to the people during past two decades. The people now look for ending of the sufferings and not its perpetuation. And putting Kashmir on backburner is no answer, this would amount to nothing but perpetuation of the tragedy.
The emerging scenario, as can be conjured from the news reports and statements of Kashmir leaders across the divide has no positive aspect for the people. Has the fragmented leadership thought of antidote or they have decided to swim with the tide is the question that haunts the public mind. Is there story going to be the yes-man story is what bothers average person that has been the worst suffer.
In this hour of confusions if leaders fail to come to the occasion and steer the events in tune with people’s aspiration they will be reduced to useless cogs in the political machinery of the state like many of their predecessors.
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