By Gowhar Geelani
There was a time when one of the senior most leaders of the pro-freedom alliance, All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC], had remarked in his passion arousing speech in a mosque in Srinagar, during the early 1990s, that “the dawn of freedom has arrived” and that “only the formal announcement was to be made”. “….Azaadi Ka Sooraj Tulu Ho Chuka Hai; Ab Sirf Ee’laan Karna Baqi Hai…..[the sun of freedom has risen and now only an announcement is to be made],” he had said. As a child, I had listened to this speech of his with keen interest.
Two decades later, the same leader has declared at a public rally in his native hamlet that that the UN resolutions vis-à-vis Kashmir dispute are no more “relevant” and that these have now become “impracticable” and “obsolete”. Prof. Bhat also went on to say that the pro-resistance groups should forge an alliance with the mainstream pro-India politicians and work together on a common minimum programme.
Contrary to the expectations, this controversial statement made by the ‘learned’ Hurriyat leader did not shock many people in Kashmir. It invited little reaction from a handful of columnists and lukewarm responses from some lesser known Hurriyat leaders.
This is perhaps because the Kashmiri nation is used to such theatrics. Political leaders from both the camps – the so-called mainstream (pro-India) and pro-resistance – have said many things in Kashmir; contradicted themselves time and again, then said many things again only to go back on the promises and pledges made from time to time.
This latest controversial statement from Professor Abdul Gani Bhat did not create ripples. It failed to shake the earth. It did not make any walls fall. This ‘great’ leader remained in the news for a couple of days. And that was it. Quite possible, that was what the professor wanted from his latest ‘bombshell’.
Some leaders thrive and survive on controversial statements.
People know it is not the world of Plato who would describe “Philosopher Kings” as “those who love the sight of truth”. People are aware that those ruling them are not philosophers and that they are not being ruled by the philosophers either. They know people at the helm of affairs and those championing the cause of freedom are only ordinary politicians, who have deliberately left the doors open for temptations of all kinds, and who at any given stage could easily change their colours like the chameleons.
Let us not debate the relevance of the UN resolutions with regards to Kashmir issue here. The debate is that those leaders who until yesterday believed that these resolutions form the bedrock of Kashmir issue and solid base for their case against India and Pakistan are themselves not sure about that today.
One’s own paradigm can be a changing factor and at times move mountains. But when leaders themselves underestimate their vision with their minds in determining what is possible and realistic, they cease to be the leaders. Commitment towards the cause is something else. There is no harm in quitting. Those who are tired should quit and be open about it.
One of the biggest tragedies of Kashmir is that it has produced many incompetent leaders, who lack vision and foresight. Many of them have prospered only by reacting to certain situations. They have never been pro-active in their approach. They issue statements only when someone is killed, arrested or raped. And in deceptive peace times, the presence of 700,000 troops’ in Kashmir Valley does not bother their conscience and it does not qualify as military occupation.
Another leader of a faction of Hurriyat conglomerate went on record saying that he is not accountable and answerable to anyone. When there are leaders of such calibre and class, a nation can only wander in the wonderland of politics.
Leaders, albeit, are not the only people who should be blamed for the mess Kashmiris find themselves in.
Columnists – whose writings would once inspire youngsters in Kashmir to fall in love with the ‘idea of freedom’ and detest the ‘idea of being in chains’ – are now compiling melodious songs of pragmatism and impressive lyrics of realism. Either they have graduated to higher level of maturity or the ‘elephant of corruption’ grown more wise, intelligent and strong.
In her essay “Shall We Leave It to the Experts”, Arundhati Roy remarks: Cynics say that real life is a choice between the failed revolution and the shabby deal. I don’t know…may be they’re right. But even they should know that there’s no limit to just how shabby that shabby deal can be. What we need to search for and find, what we need to hone and perfect into a magnificent, shining thing, is a new kind of politics. Not the politics of governance, but the politics of resistance. The politics of opposition. The politics of forcing accountability….In the present circumstances, I’d say the only thing worth globalizing is dissent…”
Some theories have already suggested that some Hurriyat leaders are preparing ground for their participation in the 2014 Assembly Elections. That is perhaps why such statements are being made to check the pulse of the people. At this stage Kashmiris aren’t sure how shabby that shabby deal is.
But what they are sure about is to remind the learned professor that his students have grown older now; they read a lot, travel, experience, know, and understand things and different dynamics of politics a lot better than before, and as a matter of fact, do not rely on the dry drab classroom lectures anymore. And most importantly, they are aware of the designs and compulsions of the armchair experts, commissioned writers, and assignment editors. They also know and understand the distinction between fake and real leaders.
Don’t we know that the traditional teaching methods and tools are being replaced by the new, modern and effective tools, technologies and methods?
Gowhar Geelani is a Kashmiri journalist. Contact gowhargeelani at gmail dot com.