Kashmir: Politicians & Leaders

Political world is experiencing massive geopolitical changes. At the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Russian city of Ufa has become the point of convergence for all the initiatives and projects of the Silk World Order of trade and integration that China and Russia are spearheading. Ufa, which is the capital of Russia’s Bashkortostan, has simultaneously hosted an extraordinary summit for both the BRICS—which has increasingly become an alternative forum to that of the G7—and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) respectively from July 8 to 9 and from July 9 to 10, 2015. Meanwhile, economic crisis of Greece in Europe are deepening with every passing day. The question of how to save Greece, debated for more than five years among European Union, has taken the EU’s future at the recurring nightmare. After the country’s citizens voted in a referendum to reject the terms of a new bailout by international creditors, Greece risks having to leave the 19-nation Eurozone and forsaking the shared euro currency, a move that could decide the political future of Europe as a whole with particular line of actions in Greece. Although Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government agreed to meet most of the terms demanded by its creditors, and it requested a three-year bailout of 53.5 billion euros, or $59 billion, as a starting point for talks about possible debt relief. But things at Brussels are not as simple as considered by many across the globe.  Alexis Tsipras’s stunning victory during the elections in Greece was an alarming sign for the policymakers at the heart of European capital regarding the future of capitalism and European Union. 

Similarly a sweeping electoral victory of Bharatya Janata Party in Indian general elections held in 2014 was perceived as a turning and defining point for the future of politics in South Asia. Prime Minister Modi’s government is taking firm stances on international issues and particularly with regards to trans-Radcliffe line in sub-continent. The India-Pakistan summit in Ufa (Russia) is propagated as the victory of strong Indian diplomatic muscles at the expense of Pakistan’s fragile situation both at home and abroad. The joint statement of foreign secretaries of both countries puts on record several Indian concerns and it fundamentally carries a specific mention of expediting the 26/11 trial without any reference to the Kashmir word. Only a few lines in a paragraph of joint statement talk about the two sides agreeing to “discuss all outstanding issues” portrays that it was a joint statement. Pakistani state officials are emphasizing only on this point that we agreed that “all the outstanding issues” would be discussed bilaterally, therefore, Kashmir issue would also be discussed. Otherwise, there was nothing in the statement that makes it joint statement.

Politicians across the Line of Control in Jammu Kashmir are reacting traditionally again repeating the same hollow slogans without any concrete mechanism or political road map to solve the Kashmir issue and be considered as the primary party to the conflict. Delhi-and Islamabad oriented politicians in all the regions of Jammu Kashmir are capitalizing their lots by highlighting the same rhetoric of loyalties, but the dilemma is no one among the politicians of Jammu Kashmir is coming forward to address the core issue and in alliance with the suffering masses in Jammu Kashmir. Perhaps only the politicians in shape of a “pendulum” are there in all the regions of Jammu Kashmir across LOC and no “Leader” is there to take the firm stance to resolve the Jammu Kashmir conflict in accordance with the free will of Kashmiri people. A stance which is pro-Kashmir, pro-people and pro-independence along with a guarantee for lasting peace in the entire South Asian region. Kashmiri politicians across the LOC failed to make a policy of their own to negotiate with Delhi and Islamabad as a primary party to the conflict. Instead they relied on Delhi and Islamabad and are still following the same road maps according to their interests. Pro Pakistan politicians in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir are continuously displaying their short-sightedness by every day re-affirming their loyalties with Islamabad. POK mainstream politicians are so naïve and incapable that they even cannot claim 350 mw of electricity from Islamabad besides the fact that POK is producing more than 1600 mw. Same is the case with the mainstream politicians of Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir who cannot maintain their presence at Srinagar without the backing of BJP or Congress. All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) that was established to lead the political movement in Indian held Jammu Kashmir, badly failed to put the feet on political ground. Instead of leading the true aspirations of masses the amalgam relied on the directions of Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi. Unfortunately after more than two decades APHC could not manage to come out of the valley of Kashmir and that too only among the Muslims. Both Jammu and Ladakh have been “No Go Areas” for APHC. Is it a deliberate negligence by APHC or they were guided to do so? Anyway, both the factions of APHC failed badly to prove themselves worthy enough even for the valley people. The pro-people, nationalist and secular forces across LOC also have the same dilemma. Although nationalists maintain a sizeable presence in POK and Valley, unfortunately majority of the nationalists is also divided into camps i.e. Pakistani backed Kashmiri nationalism to counter India and vice versa when we analyze both the parts of divided State. In POK true nationalism has a history of resistance movement and nationalists have played a fundamental role in opposing the colonial policies of Islamabad to enslave the masses and resources of POK. Yet again they failed to formulate a long term policy to challenge the occupation of India and Pakistan collectively and part of it is due to camp based nationalism that keeps nationalists divided. Having being known for their secular, democratic and progressive ideologies nationalists in all the parts of Jammu Kashmir failed like APHC to extend their movement and membership to Jammu and Ladakh among the non-Muslim fellow citizens of Jammu Kashmir State. 

That is the difference between leaders and politicians because politicians are short sighted and self-centered and leaders envision the common future of the entire nation and region. The fundamental difference between a politician and the “leader of the nation” is that the former always endeavors to better his/her vote bank in the succeeding elections and latter has to sacrifice his/her today for the glory of the nation’s tomorrow. The principle gift the leader possesses allows him/her not only to see a bit further but to grasp the meaning of what he/she has seen. The vision eclipses and transforms what has come before and envisions what would be the future’s scenario? While looking at the state of affairs all those struggling and claiming themselves to be true representatives of Kashmiri nation across the line of divide must bear in mind that a leader earns respect by virtue of character and a politician demands respect by virtue of office.

A true leader is one who loves his people, community, land and country; who envisions a better future for his people to stand up with honor and dignity among the community of nations. In return leader does not demand any reward from the people but history always rewards him for his dedication and struggle. And we have the living example of Maqbool Butt Shaheed, who stood firm to his ideology and remained faithful to his commitment unto his last breath. History has chosen him as an undisputed hero of Kashmiri nation across the line of divide. Among the Kashmiri politicians, those who still believe that by sitting in the Indian or Pakistani camps and following Delhi and Islamabad is the only option must not forget the recent demise of Sardar Qayyum, former President and Prime Minister of POK, who spent all his life for the ideology of State’s accession to Pakistan and none of the Pakistani State officials even bothered to attend his funeral. Because there are many others among the Kashmiri politicians to fill the vacuity and thus occupation could be prolonged. Looking at the political character of Alexis Tsipras in European Union for his nation, there is a lot for Kashmiri politicians if they are ready to learn a lesson. Only in those countries, regions and territories where visionary leadership promotes its political character by taking into account a multi-lateral approach can hope to achieve an escape from human misery. This practically viable multi-lateral approach of envisioning the better future for both a particular country and region through visionary political stance could guarantee a peaceful South Asia, where people are struggling for their political identifications to secure their economic future and stand with honor and dignity among the nation states.

Writer is a US based political analyst, human rights and peace activist of Kashmiri origin. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution. He can be contacted at [email protected]

All Parties Hurriyat Conference that was established to lead the political movement in Jammu & Kashmir, badly failed to put the feet on political ground. Instead of leading the true aspirations of masses the amalgam relied on the directions of Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi. Unfortunately after more than two decades APHC could not manage to come out of the valley of Kashmir and that too only among the Muslims. 

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