Indian foreign minister Natwar Singh’s recent statement regarding his apprehension about credibility of Hurriyat and that of Pakistan overrating Hurriyat is not justified any way. It is true Hurriyat Conference does not have the complete and absolute mandate to represent people of Kashmir but that does not make it irrelevant all together. Mr. Singh’s statement the act of sophistry is part of Indian policy, the empty rhetoric full of ambiguity to promote the Indian concept of Kashmir leadership. India always propagated the idea of elected (partly selected) governments of Kashmir being the real representatives with absolute mandate to represent the people of Kashmir, which they are not. India is deluding itself since long, with a fancy idea of imposing leadership by deceit and camouflage. They at occasions tried to incentivise people to pursue their agenda. Hurriyat conference (all faction) also do not have undisputed and complete mandate to represent the aspirations of the people of Kashmir in any prospective process for resolution of Kashmir issue. This faction-ridden conglomerate (Hurriyat Conference) of more than a score of organizations has become irrelevant and redundant due to infighting and egoistic approach of its leaders. No doubt Hurriyat has evolved out of a movement spearheaded and strengthened from time to time by its constituents. This evolved leadership of Hurriyat needs a stamp of validity and ratification from the people of Kashmir for authenticity credence and much required legitimacy.
Kashmir conflict is a vexed issue; any one who claims to represent people of Kashmir should have complete massive and sturdy mandate. Several political setups in Kashmir claim to be the representatives of Kashmiries, but frankly speaking people of Kashmir have not yet vested any rights of representation and decision making with any political arrangement. Self-proclamation and imposition of leadership not only amounts to exploitation and deception but is also shameful. In1947 Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was the most powerful leader in Kashmir and was having a sizeable following, but he was not having any legal or moral right to decide the fate and future of people of Kashmir. Mere recommendation of a desperate and fleeing ruler (letter of October 26, 1947 from Hari Singh to Mountbatten requesting the accession of Kashmir to India) to allow Sheikh to be part of an emergency interim government did not confer him any legal right to decide the future of Kashmir. His decision regarding Kashmir and people of Kashmir did not prove everlasting because of the fact that his mandate at that time was limited to running affairs of the state. If Sheikh Mohmad Abdullah would have got absolute and ratified mandate to decide the future of Kashmir and it’s people, there would have been no dissidence or uprising in Kashmir now.
Leadership evolves out of the mass movements and revolutions that hold true in Kashmir as well. For legitimate leadership, its credibility, and mandate needs to be devised and decided through a proper procedure and system. Even in earlier times of least democratic atmosphere leadership issues were decided and settled with credible and mass support based process and methods. In present democratic or quasi-democratic atmosphere and setups; prevalent with majority of the world population the matters of leadership its authenticity and mandate are given top priority.
The maximum elected governments in Kashmir since 1947 had a limited mandate to run the day to day affairs of the state and legislate laws for smooth governance. Deciding the fate of millions of Kashmiries needs a larger mandate sought through some extra ordinary arrangement other than routine elections. No one can ever claim of authority and proclaim to be the true leader of people of Kashmir unless such person or group of persons go through the acid test of earning legitimacy by credible procedure, and means of deciding leadership issue.
It is now an established fact that the vexed issue of Kashmir is three dimensional with India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir as its parties. The fact has now been realized and endorsed by every sensible school of thought. By the blessings of Almighty better sense is prevailing with all quarters concerned and there is a ray of hope for having a favorable and congenial atmosphere for the permanent settlement of Kashmir issue, which will be everlasting and acceptable to one and all. Before making any initiation on this front the issue of absolute and credible Kashmir leadership needs to be resolved, under the auspices of a credible and independent authority. A leadership which has a complete and undisputed mandate to represent people of Kashmir in any forum for resolution of Kashmir dispute. As otherwise the seeds of dissent and future rebellion will put every prospective process and exercise of solution and it’s out come into jeopardy.
India and Pakistan have their own interests and as a nation they are bound to care for their interests, even at the cost of the aspirations of Kashmiries. So India is bound to have it’s own theory and mindset of Kashmir leadership. However, why Hurriyat and for that matter any political school of thought in Kashmir should not go through the acid test of people’s verdict regarding mandate? Why should any sincere leadership shy away from people’s verdict? Peoples mandate gives credence, authority and legitimacy to the leadership. If people of Kashmir are allowed to decide about their leadership independently, without any coercion under the auspices of an independent and credible international system, there will be no imposed and faction-ridden leadership.
At the moment Indian concept of Kashmir leadership; Mufti, Congress and National Conference trio is no way having mandate to represent people of Kashmir in any forum for resolution of Kashmir conflict. Divided Hurriyat should also restrain it self from indulging in any sort of misadventure regarding Kashmir issue unless and until it gets the seal of approval from the people of Kashmir. It is a fact that any of the Hurriyat factions and other Kashmir cause organizations or individual leaders can not be ignored and written off summarily. Any one of these groups and individuals can be part of future leadership of Kashmir. However, all of them have to go through the process of leadership resolution with a genuine vote of people.
There is one more dimension to the leadership issue in Kashmir that of people with arms (extremists). People give them different nomenclatures as per their convince, but let us be moderate and reconciliatory enough and call them crusaders. We may or may not subscribe to their way of highlighting the issue; they are a force to reckon with. These people with extremist laden conception of resolving any dispute have to be carried along and motivated to be part of leadership issue. In real sense during finalization and ratification of Kashmir leadership every one in Kashmir needs to be involved but the final verdict has to be and will be that of people of Kashmir, with out any intimidation, pressure or coercion.
At the moment the Mufti, Azad, Farooq, Tarigami and party nor the Gilanies, Shahs, Maliks, or Professors et al have any clear-cut mandate to represent people of Kashmir. Unless and until they accept the fact of peoples power and associate with the process of resolution of leadership issue with out any fear and favor or pressure on people of Kashmir.