By Syed Suhail Yaqoob
From the day Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, landed in this beautiful valley the stars of fortune have eluded us. From history books, one important lesson has emerged: the persons we invited to save us have become over time our lorded us. They managed to do one thing: they prevented Kashmiri leadership in Kashmir to arise. This has been hallmark of our history from the day Mughals landed here. In periods of Afghans, Sikhs, Dogras’ and now, impressive leadership has not been there.
Common people might believe that there is no culture of “Leadership in Kashmir”. But it is a complete lie. We had leaders like Lalitdatiya, Budshah and others. Not only were we militarily versatile but economically, socially and culturally we put to shame even best of cultures. We did not even leave the realms of metaphysics. Our ancestors travelled through space and time using spiritual energies. In a famous fight, between Raja Dahir of Sindh and Muhammad Bin Qasim; Raja Dahir is said to have mentioned in a letter to Muhammad Bini Qasim that he would not have dared to invade India had he taken the services of Kashmiri king. It was only through treachery that Mughals entered Kashmir; otherwise they were defeated many times by the Kashmiri army.
In case of culture, we were ahead of every region in the sub-continent. Fourth Buddhist counsel was held in Kashmir. Abinav-Gupta belongs to this very place. Who has forgotten the famous king of Kashmir, Budshah or Shahi Khan, whose tolerance and sympathetic attitude knew no bounds. He was ahead of Akbar in all aspects. He was a solid believer in religion and was not involved in any innovations of religion unlike Akbar who created a new religion only to serve his own interests.
In realms of metaphysics, we have Sheikh ul Alam and others who traversed every bit of space through their spiritual endeavors. There can be no doubt that leadership not only shows the path to downtrodden people but, in fact, moulds society. In Kashmir, after a long period of time, there did emerge some people who were to lead our nation to progress, but unfortunately they lost track and messed with the future of people.
In fact, the partition of India had nothing to do with the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Not a single leader from Kashmir either belonged to Indian National Congress or the Muslim league. No doubt our leaders did play a part, but their role was negligible. The Indian National Congress drew most of its leaders and cadres from Indian Muslims or Hindus and same was true for Muslim League. Our state leadership got trapped in the politics of Indian Subcontinent. They were trapped and subsequently lost all insight and vigour. They, then manipulated, not only the people but their conscience as well. Who in history will forget how a friend of Sheikh Abdullah (Jawarhar lal Nehru) stabbed him in the back. Sheikh Abdullah had not taken the cue from history, perhaps. Our tallest leader was trimmed and today young generation sees in him a traitor. The Indian subcontinent’s politicians knew it very well that Kashmir is the spine of this region.
It is only in Kashmir, perhaps, that people have resorted to huge sacrifice to achieve their political goals without any sort of leadership. From 1990’s particularly, leadership is missing. Today we have groups not leaders. They are totally disconnected from the realities of Kashmir and its population. Their ideas and Kashmiri people’s ideas are oceans apart. They come out of their hibernation only when something odd happens here; be it killings of innocents or some act that tries to change the demography of Kashmiri region. Even at that time it is difficult to tell who is leading whom? In fact it has been a tendency of Kashmiri leaders to follow people and not vice versa. When people lead their leaders, it is a suicide and that nation has few chances to prosper. It is interesting to see as well as hear that Indian government and the current government argues that there is no one to talk to because there is no common agenda.It is so a tragic thing that we have not been able to release political prisoners in Kashmir. They have clubbed short term aims and long term one. A common agenda is missing at all levels and Indian government has been able to use this point very well to defer talks all time and to tell the international community that there exists no common agenda which could be pursued any time soon .It is high time that our leaders realise it very soon that common agenda and common leadership is the main crux of our problems. Without it, only confusion will prevail. Not only our enemies of Kashmir will exploit this situation but will tar its reputation all around the world.
The Government of India has been able to cash on this very point that they will talk to all “Stakeholders” in Kashmir, stressing the point that there is no unity in thought, action and future of Kashmir. We have to make this point clear to our so called leaders that Kashmiri civilians have given everything for their political, economic, and social and human rights and blaming them is no way recourse now. Today, if Kashmir needs anything it is a common agenda and a common leadership- that too a versatile one. Walter Lawrence has said this before one hundred years that, “ if Kashmir is provided good leadership for half of a century , there will be no place better that this to live”
—The author is a Ph.D scholar in Department of Economics at Aligarh Muslim University and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org