Though to say that in these troubled times in Kashmir I am often reminded of Mirza Ghalib may appear to be odd, but it is true. And this is not because his poetry helps to divert the mind from the ongoing narrative of blood and gore in Kashmir, but simply because the couplets of Ghalib provide a surprisingly accurate assessment of the situation prevailing here.
I must also admit that neither am I an ardent lover of shairy nor that I have conducted any research on the works of Ghalib and their relevance to the happenings in Kashmir. It was just by chance that this co-relation came to my mind when I read AG Nooranis recent observations on Jinnah and plebiscite in Kashmir as well as the copious accounts published response. While going through various narratives and versions, I found that each account relied heavily on personal interpretation of events with too many ifs and buts. And it was then that the following couplet of Ghalib suddenly came to my mind:
Hui muddat ke Ghalib mar gaya par yaad aata hai,
Woh har ek baat par kehna key yunh hota to kya hota?
(Its been ages since Ghalib died, but he is still remembered
For what would have happened if things were different, he always wondered)
And if you come to think of it, this couplet makes good practical sense, for how does it really matter now whether Jinnah actually did or did not betray the Kashmir cause or that Nehru went back on his promises on his own or due to pressure from the ultra- nationalists. This is not to suggest that these issues are totally irrelevant, as the same would certainly be of great academic interest to students of History. However, whoever may have done whatever good or bad he did then, the fact of the matter is that today Kashmir is occupied by both India and Pakistan. So, instead of delving into the past and interpolating the possible outcome of incidents and events by using Ghalibs postulate of yunh hota toh kya hota? would it not be more meaningful to make the stark reality of illegal occupation of Kashmir by both India and Pakistan, the take off point for debate?
Next is the confusion that exists as to what exactly are we struggling for? Although they have drummed it into us that azadi is the panacea for our ills, none of our leaders have ever bothered to outline its contours. So, while a section of the public feels that azadi implies complete freedom from both Indian and Pakistani occupation, another section interprets azadi as liberation of Kashmir from India and its merger with Pakistan. While proponents of the former option feel that merger is nothing more than exchanging an iron cage with a golden one, advocates of this option claim that merger with Pakistan is necessary for logical implementation of the two - nation principle on which Pakistan was created ! So when our leaders tell us that just getting azadi ( avoiding mention of whether it is independence or merger with Pakistan) will by itself automatically convert Kashmir into a paradise for all, one is reminded of the following couplet of Ghalib:
Humko maloom hai jannat ki haqeqat lekin
Dil ko khush rakhney ke liye Ghalib, yeh kyaal accha hai.
(Even though I am very well aware of the reality of paradise
But to keep ones heart happy, believing in its illusions is wise
How can a mass movement ever lead to an enduring resolution when its goals are not clear? Right to self determination may sound an impressive phrase, but it loses its value when there is a cacophony of diverse sloganeering with some calling for azadi and others for Kashmir banega Pakistan. Though our leaders blame the international community for its inaction in ensuring implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir, they have themselves not come up with any practical means that could facilitate the same and some of these are:
- The UN resolution calls for withdrawal of the Pakistan army from all areas of Kashmir under its occupation and positioning the Indian army there prior to the conduct of a plebiscite. However, none of our leaders has ever even tried to suggest to Pakistantoconsider withdrawing its army from these areas, so that the pre- condition for the plebiscite can be fulfilled. One does realise that this is an extremely sensitive issue that may enrage Pakistan,but then, if we are clamouring for unconditional implementation of the UN resolutions, then we too will have to play strictly by its rulesand soour leaders have to do something about this.
- As per the UN resolution, only citizens of J&K are eligible for participating in the plebiscite. However, Pakistan has permitted non- Kashmiris to settlepermanently in Pakistan administered Kashmir, which has complicated the issue. Our leaders have unfortunately failed to come out with any proposal for resolving this problem and thus, pressing for a plebiscite to exercise the right to self determinationamounts to nothing more than mere rhetoric.
By refusing to publically discuss and educate the masses on these issues, our leaders have given the people a false impression that except for New Delhis obduracy, there are no other hurdles as regards their right to self determination. Thus, the people are naturally perplexed as to why the international community is oblivious to its sufferings and they rightly feel that they have been left out in the woods, alone. The confused state of the public is best illustrated through this couplet of Ghalib:
Hum wahan hain jahan se humko bhi
Kuch apni khabar nahi aati!
(We are in such a state where
Even of news about ourselves, we are unaware)
If learned and experienced leaders cannot find a common meeting ground for jointly taking the azadi movement forward, then how can they expect the intellectually less endowed public to sacrifice personal prejudices and unite for a greater cause. How can one expect the international community to view our struggle as a popular movement enjoying the consummate support of the masses, when the Hurriyat leadership is itself plagued with serious differences? And how the common man perceives this ongoing melee can be appropriately described by the following couplet of Ghalib:
Bazeecha-e-atfal hai duniya mere aage,
Hota hai shab-o-roz tamasha mere aage
(For me the world is nothing more than a childrens playground,
Where night and day, only antics are being performed all around)
Yet, some of our leaders continue to engage in an intermittent war of words and trading accusations, as well as picking up minor issues to engage in a turf war for supremacy, merely to nourish their personal egos. Obviously these leaders have either not read or having read, failed to grasp the futility of feeding ones ego which Ghalib expressed thus:
Ghalib'-e-khasta ke baegair kaun se kaam band hain ?
Roiye zaar-zaar kya, keejiye haaye-haaye kyun ?
(Without the wretched Ghalib around, the world has certainly not come to rest
So, why all this bitter crying around and why all this loud protest?)
Infighting is making the movement for the right to self determination flounder like a rudderless ship and due to this, it is inconceivable how a splintered Hurriyat without any definite road- map would be able to convince the UN and the international community to force India to let- go of Kashmir. Coupled with this is the utter confusion on the type of azadi that would ultimately come our way. The time- frame in which we will attain this is too very uncertain and to top it all, no one is asking the people what they really want. So, it is but natural for cynicism and helplessness to creep into the common mans mind which can best be expressed through this couplet of Ghalib:
Rahi na taaqat-e-Guftaar aur gar ho bhi,
Toh kis ummeed pe kahiye ki aarzoo kya hai ?
(There is no strength left in me to talk and even if I could speak,
Then on what hopes do I express the aspirations that I seek?)
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