WILL THE ‘GENUINE’ KASHMIRI LEADER STAND UP PLEASE?
Filed Under: Opinion, Politics | Posted: 09/15/2012 at 7:36PM
Comments | Region: India
WILL THE ‘GENUINE’ KASHMIRI LEADER STAND UP PLEASE?
"It is important that genuine leadership of Kashmiris should be involved in any negotiation process between the two countries aimed at resolving the issue."
- Spokesman Hurriyat (M)
Amidst the hustle and bustle surrounding the Indo- Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ dialogue, three important issues raised during the Hurriyat Conference (M) executive council meeting on September 05 were lost sight of. These are:
v Hurriyat should win the confidence of people by representing them through their political activities.
v India should shun its traditional political stand on Kashmir and Indian Foreign Minister should visit Pakistan with an open mind.
v Genuine leadership of Kashmiris should be involved in any negotiation aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue.
The Hurriyat’s admission that it needs to ‘win the confidence’ of the people is a positive development and a major step towards this conglomerate gaining ‘legitimacy’ of being the true representatives of the collective aspirations of the people of Kashmir. And this is important since right from its inception the Hurriyat has made no efforts to seek a mandate from the public and instead ‘crowned’ itself as the undisputed conglomerate representing the ‘true aspirations’ of Kashmiris. This approach conveying the impression that ‘the Hurriyat knows what is best for you (the people)’ has not gone down well with the intelligentsia as well as a large section of society as the public has been denied the right to freely express its views on the future of Kashmir. Therefore, the decision to ‘win the confidence’ of the people is a path breaking step and needs to be complimented as it would replace the autocratic and domineering aura surrounding the Hurriyat with a more democratic and ‘people friendly’ flavour!
The next observation that “India should shun its traditional political stand on Kashmir” too is pertinent as it is necessary to usher in winds of change so that the present logjam can be broken. However, while the Hurriyat has realised the inescapable need for New Delhi to effect a change in its outlook on Kashmir and have an “open mind”, it has unfortunately not given any indication whether it will also become amenable to change. For successful resolution of any dispute, it is essential that all the stake holders continue to have an ‘open mind’ so that the dialogue can progress. The statement of the Pakistan FM that, “India and Pakistan have decided to move forward. We will not be held hostage by history," indicates that the two countries have finally realised that without ‘open minds’ nothing positive can emerge. Now, if the Hurriyat expects that it should be part of the dialogue on Kashmir, then it too requires having an ‘open mind’ on this issue and ceasing to be a ‘hostage’ to History. There are reports that the Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq may head a delegation to Pakistan next month and if this trip materialises, then the Mirwaiz would do well to display an ‘open mind’ and set an example for New Delhi and Islamabad to follow!
The last issue of involving “genuine leadership of Kashmiris” in the negotiations has logic. Today we have a plethora of leaders propagating divergent interpretations of the ‘right to self determination’ and each one of them claims to be the sole ‘genuine’ representative of the masses. So, the million dollar question remains as to who fits this bill? Is it the ‘Abdullahs’, ‘Muftis, the Hurriyat or someone else? And what is that the people really aspire for? Is it ‘azadi’, autonomy, self- rule or going with Pakistan? These are the unanswered questions which bring us back to the point from where we started. The turf war for political supremacy has made the various parties and groups to indulge in pursuing petty and populist objectives which has caused severe divisions in public opinion. By promoting an approach of confrontation rather than that of accommodation, our leaders have actually harmed the Kashmir cause. So, let us face the facts- presently there is no person, party or conglomerate in Kashmir which qualifies as “genuine Kashmiri leadership.” Ideological ‘obstinacy remains the bane of Kashmir polity and unless our leaders arrive at some consensus, no headway towards resolving the Kashmir issue can be made.
But arriving at a consensus means accommodating divergent views and going by practical experience, this is something which appears virtually impossible with the present mindset of our leaders. The NC and PDP are so deeply engrossed in the quest for power that their only concern is trying to ‘expose’ each other and so they can see no further than trivial issues to use as barbs for attacking each other. As far as the Hurriyat is concerned, it remains what a scribe aptly referred to as a ‘house divided’. A classical example of this is the absence of senior separatist leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Khan from the executive council meeting of Hurriyat (M) in which the issue of ‘genuine Kashmiri leadership’ was raised. Though they may be having valid reasons for not attending, but the rumour mill is already linking their absence to the assault on these two leaders during the Dastgeer Sahib shrine fire incident. Then there are contradictory statements which keep emanating from various factions of the Hurriyat indicating that this conglomerate presently seems to have no coherent strategy or road map for the resolution of the Kashmir problem.
The self- realisation by the Hurriyat that it needs to win the confidence of the people is a bold and honest admission of the fact that presently this conglomerate does not fit the bill of ‘genuine Kashmiri leadership.’ If this reality is taken positively by all its constituent members, then the Hurriyat will become a much more vibrant forum and by accommodating divergent aspirations of the public, may be able to come out with a workable solution to the Kashmir problem. It needs to be remembered that accommodating public aspirations is not diluting or compromising on principles. On the contrary, yielding to public opinion which is contrary to one’s personal conviction is what makes a person a genuine leader and true representative of the masses. If the various Hurriyat constituents realise this and shedding parochial inhibitions and internal feuds are able to unify and constructively address the Kashmir problem resolution issue, then the public will automatically bestow upon it the right of being the ‘genuine leadership’ of the Kashmiri people. However, it needs to be seen whether the Hurriyat can walk the talk!