Kashmir: Burden of Leadership

By Zulkarnain Banday

Lots of ink and words have already been used to discuss the vexed Kashmir dispute, but the issue remains far from being solved. The leadership deficit in the Valley has disillusioned the people, especially the youth, who are yet to figure out who their true representatives are.

It is a reality though that the ship in which we, Kashmiris as a whole, are sailing is rudderless and without a captain. Many individuals, nay parties, whether local or from outside claiming to be captains, who could sail this ship to the shore, have failed miserably.

Keeping our history and present situation in mind no one can claim full support of the people here. It seems we are the only nation on the face of earth confronting such a situation.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

Photography By Burhaan Kinu

Kashmir has two types of leadership: the pro-India or ‘mainstream’ leadership, which instead of fulfilling the genuine aspirations of people is exploiting them over petty issues. And the second lot is the anti-India or the ‘separatist camp’, whose schisms can be seen and understood by every sane person.

Hierarchy and the lust for leadership led to the division of the Hurriyat Conference into various factions, with every ‘leader’ claiming to be the true representative of the people.

This ‘leadership’ has Mammon attached to it. Everyone is in pursuit of wealth and wants to bring money through his ‘leadership’ so that his family and aides can live happily and yet continue to be vociferous in rallies in support of their ‘leader’.

It was unfortunate for the nation of Kashmir that the Hurriyat got divided. The media, especially the local media, plays an important role in promoting a particular person as ‘the leader’ by giving him gratuitous space in newspapers and magazines, for which it gets paid. Among the ‘leadership’ of Hurriyat, we have those who support integration with Pakistan or a referendum, others who demand freedom from Indian as well as from Pakistani rule to remain independent, and still others who are accidental ‘leaders’ whose real agendas are yet to be known.

Photography By Burhaan Kinu

Photography By Burhaan Kinu

Secession with Pakistan and complete Independence from India are two opposite things and those leaders who yearn this receive money from both sides. “Of course we receive money because without money our movement of Independence cannot work,” goes the famous statement by Shaheed (Martyr) Abdul Gani Lone, who once represented Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference from the Hurriyat camp. He went further and termed it as “Sheer Madar” (Mother’s Milk).

He was the only person who publicly and eloquently accepted this fact; others are either tight-lipped or term it a “plan to malign their image” or “defamation of freedom movement” of Kashmir, when asked.

Hurriyat is a good business for those having a materialistic mind-set, no matter if attired in a religious garb. Those who gave their lives for the cause were pious and while those who survived are either disillusioned or are surviving for sheer subsistence. Individuals leading the freedom struggle could not come up with any well-structured programme, which could prove fruitful in the future. Millions of rupees are and were poured for the rehabilitation of families who lost their loved ones but hardly anyone received this money. Where the money went nobody knows. Questions that must be asked from these leaders are: where did they get properties worth crores of rupees? How did they buy and/or construct buildings without having any known businesses?

Now the question, which is intact and awaits an answer is, who is the true leader and representative of this nation? A nation, which in 2008 and 2010 in particular, obeyed every “call” and “calendar” for five and six months respectively, bore a loss of millions of rupees, while schools and colleges remain closed. What was outcome of all that? Nil. Those who did not bother to think about the career of students for months suddenly made an excuse and called off their “calendars.”

Photography By Abid Bhat

Photography By Abid Bhat

Election boycott call is a phobia whose meaning and essence is nowhere applicable on the ground. Individuals who take credit for successful strike calls should also acknowledge the fact that despite election boycott people are voting. Then why this rigidity on the election issue? The pro-freedom leadership of Kashmir is exposing itself on the International platform. And the day is not too far when the same leadership would be sidelined by India, Pakistan, and more importantly by the people of Kashmir.

The result of the election boycott call is also legitimising the age-old rhetoric of India, that Kashmir is “an Integral part of India” by taking the voting percentage as a referendum. Now, who is the leader of this nation and where is he?

To me this ship looks trapped in a tempest and nobody coming to its rescue. Our leadership has kneeled to lust and rapacity. The public is yearning for fulfilment of the dream of freedom but everyone has his/her its own meaning of freedom and leadership. If things continue this way, mayhem and destruction are inevitable.



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