In the story, How much land does a man need, Leo Tolstoy convincingly proves his point. In 14th century the great mystic Laleshwari in one of her vakhs presents an equally instructive deduction which when translated loosely reads: Gluttony leads nowhere, O Man!/ Abstinence makes one proud and haughty/Simple living and modest thinking/Unlocks the gates (of life long happiness).
Laleshwari and next Sheikh Noor- U- Din sowed the seeds of a new culture in Kashmir which gave timely support to an otherwise falling social structure. The interaction between sofis and saints of the two religions succeeded in fostering a unique culture which made conservatism to yield space for accommodation and growth. The new culture was reared and cared by saints and mystics down to our childhood. Consequently this culture became all pervading- the synthesis of faiths creating an atmosphere of trust and respect for each other. It developed further- faith becoming the realisation of the ideal. This culture became the sole guide to truth and arbiter of conduct. The Kashmiris lived through the most turbulent period of history by the strength of their culture. The new faith of living in harmony, irrespective of the official patronages or discouragements carried them on and on.
The political orientation of the Kashmir society is a very recent phenomenon. It dates back to 1932 AD. It appears that the economic degradation and hopelessness of their collective misery forced them to drift away from politics and pool their miseries. So every measure of penury counterbalanced itself by an added measure of civilisation. Simple living and high thinking is what made Kashmir out of sync with the rest of India till recent times.
It appears that we have entered the twilight zone of intellectual transition. We are now thinking less but watching more. And when eyes are engaged minds lose the focus. The youth are not bothered now to learn about the amount of sweat and blood that has gone into creating conditions of comfortable life they enjoy. Politics, I repeat is synonymous with wisdom- mathematics with clarity. It is sad that both disciplines are rolling in fossilised muck now. Show me the money! That is what constitutes the fulfilment of the individual ruling roost in the kingdom of Education.
The danger to India doesn’t originate in Pakistan. It originates in the degenerate political narrative which glides and engages in dog fights with the help of the two wings: secularism and communalism. Divide and conquer. Unite and rule! – Ayn Rand. The Nehruvian’s created false prestige from the concept of secularism and went about displaying it in academia. In Dostoyevsky’s “Brothers” the agnostic Ivon tells his deeply religious brother Alyosha that all humans, at every stage of life, look for symbols to surrender all responsibilities for their actions, freeing them from shackles of fear, doubt and hesitation. The symbol can be a teacher, guru, parent, ideology, political leader or icon, idol or perceived god. Or Secularism!
India was always rich and Europe was always poor. It still is! There are four assets that India has been blessed with from times immemorial. Land and topography, Himalayas and water, Latitude or positional advantage-the Sun and human resource! If peace prevails India can feed half the world! But what we lack is worldly wisdom. We are somehow smitten by the humane qualities which trick us into believing that displaying harmlessness gives pause to criminality. Nehru’s failure lies in his overexploitation of this quality which all Hindus share in common. Our goodness is our weakness. But we can, without giving up on our virtues overcome this infirmity by improving our grasp of statesmanship. A good man can also be a strong man! The guiding principle for acquiring the required dexterity stems from the realisation that the treasures and achievements of a nation should be secured in strong political vaults. History teaches us whenever these vaults are eaten away by the moths of time or agents political or apolitical, the treasures are lost. Consequently the society has to start afresh. Politics and statesmanship are superior to economics, for statesmanship ensures economics its purpose and life. But when the roles are reversed we have a USSR or a Yugoslavia breaking up. It was bad statesmanship which has been destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, the crown of North Africa for a long period of time. And it is low pragmatism that Europe has unwittingly opened the gates for the sins they committed in the past to visit them. The nemesis is fast catching up with Europe once again. Murder never sleeps!
Did Iraq and Libya protect the people, despite being reasonably rich in natural resources?
Did the statesmanship of the leaders save the progress and prosperity of their respective countries? No! Their leaderships did not sense that buying peace was more important than the exhibition of their swagger. Their fulfilment meant unfulfilment of the dreams of the people they ruled over. The decline of these countries into the wells of gloom is still on.
And we have over spoilt Kashmir on our hands now. It is a reminder that our statesmanship is the prisoner of short cuts which borders on quick fix solutions. Buying loyalties has remained the corner stone of whatever policy was put into action by New-Delhi since 1975AD.
The year 1975 ushered in a period in the Kashmir history when local leadership went about settling their personal scores with the centre. When the tumult of celebrations died down the new dispensation in Kashmir went straight to brass-tacks. Having gained control of the state power, the rehabilitated leadership started looking at the laws that were extended to the state allegedly to weaken the article 370 of the Indian constitution. It was a message from the state leadership. The slight stamped by the Nehru on the Sheikh in 1953 AD was converted into slight of the entire Muslim population of the state. The political wind direction changed as the cat and mouse game started.
The 1977 election saw how theatrics were enacted to blackmail the population emotionally and as a consequence politically. It was done because people had started having second thoughts. The NC swept the poll. The Sheikh was in an enviable position now. To make the centre uncomfortable Rehabilitation Bill was passed by the state assembly. The leadership had set itself on the path of confrontation throwing caution to winds. The people who had elected them had become dispensable. The vengeance of the state had started.
Every setback we suffer can be converted into an opportunity to make good the time lost in controversies. But when revenge becomes the guiding principle of the state policy, the state becomes careless. The declining state in Kashmir started retreating at an alarming pace. The space thus yielded was occupied by non- state actors. Z A Bhutto’s hanging in 1979 had thrown up an army of non-state actors in Kashmir. By the time we arrive in 1984-85 i,e in less than 10 years optimism metamorphosed into despair. The period of peace was now breathing on borrowed time.
The slogan of self- determination is a very seductive slogan. You need not to convince people to follow because the slogan when fed to people over a period of time creates a conditioned reflex in them. And when the veneer of religion of the majority is applied the people follow blindly. But when progress on this front gets frozen, another door is opened. Azadi!
It is very sad that leaders create conflicts wantonly when better options are available. They become insensitive to human plight and fulfilment of their pipe dreams becomes their only occupation. From Indonesia to Horn of Africa via Kabul conflict zones are active. Militancy once started on sanguine grounds soon degenerates into criminality. That is the law of entropy. Waging war against a superior force soon creates an apparatus of coercion much more lethal than the one militants claim to fight against. During the last 26 years of conflict there is hardly any family which has not suffered at the hands of militants in Kashmir. Every family has a story to tell. It is Muslim versus Muslim in Kashmir now! Fear of life made every person to crawl before dictation of those who are answerable to no authority.
And while I am writing news from Saudi Arab sends chill down my spine. After Egypt rejected transferring island of KSA Saudis tweet “we ask our scholars to issue fatwa permitting killing of Egyptian soldiers”. Madness!
An activity which doesn’t have a limiting purpose breeds anti-culture. The space in which we act is limited. The unlimited energy or power non-state actors acquire for fulfilment of their single minded pursuit is naturally disproportionate. And in this fast moving scenario life makes compromises breeding low culture The greatest loss in Kashmir is that the population has moved away from culture and character to that extent that a disconnect between the past and present is visible now. You can suffer a loss of material wealth but that can be reimbursed through hard labour. But when a society loses character it is a loss which can’t be made good.
Muslims in Kashmir are enamoured of Pakistan because it is a Muslim State. Love is blind. But pain caused while travelling on the romantic path can become a nightmare if common sense is made dispensable. A portion of Muslims during pre-independence days fell in love with an idea-Pakistan and realised it. But realising a dream burdens the ideologues with responsibilities. The new state failed to deliver. Yet through alternating periods of civilian and military rule one thing remained constant-Islam. The conflict with Bengali population in 1970-71 resulted in genocide in which the Hindus suffered disproportionately.
Pakistan became a transit route, the new silk route to allow global jihadists to reach Afghanistan while allowing drugs from the golden triangle to reach the international market through the (Indian) Punjab. The Iran-Iraq war cut off the traditional drug route. The militancy in the Punjab was only a diversionary tactics which became too demanding. While following the path of intrigue Pakistan suffered its moral and spiritual defeat. As the state fostered a culture appropriate for nether world, mobsters and demagogues, cons and convicts created a cartel of corruption and profit.
“Truth is not spoken in anger. Truth is spoken, if it ever comes to be spoken, in love”-Coetze. The pain, sorrow and sufferings of the Muslims of Kashmir are as much our concern as it is their destiny. Pakistan having fallen on evil hands and evil days cannot direct the destiny of Kashmiris because they are Muslims. The dynamics of decay in Kashmir started with a mischief.( Same is true of Syria. What less than 15 young boys started converted that country into rubble). All the cunning and deceitful deviation of power and pelf and low pragmatism displayed by rulers guided the people on the path of self-destruction. Having moved on that path for a considerable period of time the momentum gained by decay of the society is enough to carry it to the Neoteny stage. Being in a condition of free fall it will require a Herculean effort by the affected people to reverse the progress of decay. People of India can help but the main thrust has to come from the effected people.
Pakistan is fast moving to becoming the North Korea of the sub-continent. One day Pakistani state will be face to face with a very hard reality. That day she will be at war with her own civilian population- a repeat of what she did in East Pakistan in 1970. One day Pakistan will find ground sinking and space shrinking in the Punjab- the only safe haven for the state at present. And that alone constitutes the fulfilment of the individual-Pakistan- which is no longer a state or a nation but only an individual diminished in size and stature and deprived of all humanity.
End of Chapter 7