Views from Srinagar
Z. G. Muhammad
OUR hearts bleed. There is hardly a day when our hearts do not bleed- bleed agonizingly. Pictures of our martyred children in a pool of blood with their rubicund faces blown to smithereens or of school going boys with faces and chests pierced with hundreds of pellets and blinded for life on a daily basis add to our wounds. More than often we are told that time heals all wounds. So far, this rhetoric has had no meaning for us- our old wounds, not healing, we continue to get fresh wounds.
Is our belief in the jugglery of words cause for the perpetuation of our pain and agony? Is it our gullibility that is responsible for the birth, nursing and continuance of our tragedy? Is it our ‘sentimental and emotional’ stupidity that has been continuously landing us from one abyss into another deep gorge or from one blind tunnel to another black hole? These questions bothered me a couple of days back, after reading the statement of a three-time chief minister of the state splashed as the lead story in most of the Srinagar and Jammu newspapers. “Here in Kashmir, people love Pakistan. Even if you (New Delhi) will throw your treasuries open for them, you can not take away the sentiment from their hearts.
So what can I do in this regard?” Many have seen his statement as an admission of a hard political reality manifested during hockey or cricket matches between India and Pakistan and during various political developments in that country. The judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had endeared himself to Kashmiris for his speech, “They are kith and kin of ours, in culture, in geography, in history, and in every way and every form” had sparked massive protests in Kashmir than in his country many had dead. So was the reaction on our side, at the death of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in a plane crash- which all Kashmiri saw as an assassination for his “supporting” Kashmir.
The NIT situation and New Delhi asking former CM to play his role in erasing the “sentiment” from the minds of the people might have sparked the statement. Nonetheless, the timing of the statement had made some analyst to conclude that the reason behind playing upon the Pro-Pakistan statement’ is the coming by-elections for the Islamabad (Anatanag) Assembly constituency. Some have even concluded that playing upon the “Pakistan sentiment” is not going to work in the coming election as the electorate is now mature enough.
It is a matter of debate if the “electorate” has politically grown up or not but historically the pro-India parties and politician whether ostensibly batting for autonomy or self-rule have used the mantra of “pro-Pakistan sentiment” for their electoral victories. In the 1977 Assembly elections “Rock-Salt and Green handkerchief” worked as legendary ‘flaming sword’ preventing even the stalwarts and heroes of yesteryears who had jumped over the Janata bandwagon from entering into the Assembly.
In 1987, it was not a motley gathering of the least known political beings gathered under the MUF; that had send shockwaves to New Delhi, but it was the power of the sentiment that had osmosed into the flag and the election symbol of the party. It was for this power another Pro-India party adopted the MUF symbol and flag that not only improved its tally but also enabled it to enter into the corridors of power. It was this ‘sentiment’ that another former chief minister subtly endorsed and thanked after taking the oath of office on 1 March 2015.
The power of the “sentiment” that former chief minister mentioned has not waned is an admitted fact, time and again it gets manifested in one or other form. Nevertheless, if it helps him in the electoral battle is debatable, but there can be no denying that it will be played upon by the contending parties to their electoral advantage. I do not blame the ‘electoral- politicians’ for playing upon the “sentiment”. It is their game. Nonetheless, what is disappointing is our gullibility, we have allowed ourselves to be tricked and manipulated into supporting what I would like to call it as the ‘reneging culture’, and it has been this culture that has immensely contributed to the non-resolution of the Kashmir dispute and thus perpetuation of our pain and agony.
The classical example of the ‘reneging culture’ has been the Plebiscite Front and its unceremonious death. The Plebiscite Front was born in 1955 after Nehru had reneged his public commitments and arrested and deposed Sheikh Abdullah. From the National Conference, the Front had succeeded in attracting just a few old stalwarts and a skeleton cadre, but its slogan for the right to self –determination and demand for a plebiscite under United Nations had attracted lots of educated youth and enthusiastic young men from all walks of life.
It’s selfless cadres suffered long incarcerations and chastisements and stood like a rock for the cause the organization represented. For the sacrifices of its cadres in a short span of time, it was counted as an important organization fighting for the right to self-determination and was compared with some premier organization for liberation like the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) of Algeria. And one fine morning, its top leadership decided to surrender by abysmally burying twenty-two years struggle and dissolving the Front.
Thus, it gave birth to the culture of reneging in our politics. And this culture got legitimacy after we glorified it by welcoming the architects of the surrender. And instead of rising against it, we allowed ourselves to get sucked into the much-orchestrated discourse during the 1977 elections and thereby legitimized what in the public eye had been illegitimate. In this reining, New Delhi found a legitimacy for its status quo policy on Kashmir, bordering on the perpetuation of our pain and agony. Even on a date, this culture playing with people’s cause. It is people only who can fight this culture. Kashmir.com