New challenges to Hurriyat credibility
By: ARSHAD KHAN
Kashmir is a complex political conflict which has historically played with the credibility and integrity of both politicians as well as political parties. Nearly all stakeholders of this conflict have gone through various patches of ‘good and bad’ public image and politicians across the divide of separatism and mainstream have had highs and lows of credibility at different times.
An amalgam of 26 political, social and religious organizations formed on March 9, 1993, as a united political front -All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), also known as Hurriyat, came into existence. The amalgam was formed to collectively work towards settling the Kashmir dispute as per the aspirations of the people. After surviving many ups and downs during the period of its early establishment, the APHC is today trying to remain relevant as a united front.
So far so good, but the party, it seems, is fast losing its credibility. Many reasons can be presented in support of this ‘credibility crisis’ argument over which the party should ponder. Be it the programmes (mostly Hartals) or strategies (again Hartals), the amalgam has had very less to offer vis-à-vis conflict resolution roadmap. Though people have been cooperating with APHC but one cannot deny the rising concern among the masses, particularly youth, who have now begun to question the front.
First of all, the programs they announce are not announced to be followed, rather they are announced so that they are not followed. Had that not been the case the party would have held such of the programs also which are not announced in advance. By announcing their programs in advance they activate the government agencies and the latter prevent them from the labor of organizing and participating in those programs.
This seems a deliberate move where they present themselves as working for the liberation of Kashmir and at the same time they need not to face the hardships the process demands. There are no surprises and no unexpected moves which could have kept the government agencies guessing only. All they do is as per the expected lines and nowhere the government faces any trouble in dealing with them.
A critical analysis of the strategies of APHC in creating the atmosphere reveals that the amalgam has done incredibly less in order to really work for the goal. People seem to be aware of the fact but since there are no other alternatives, there is an eerie silence. Once a more credible alternative arrives on the arena, we might see an outpour of questions by the masses.
The South Kashmir has literally rejected APHC. Their calls find no takers in this hotbed of armed struggle. For the people of this region the Hurriyat cares very less about their hardships and sufferings. They apply a different treatment to the people of the other regions, like the central Kashmir, and completely different to those of the South Kashmir. In case of a death of a civilian from Central Kashmir the next day surely is a strike but there are multiple of instances when deaths of many people from the South were not followed by any strike call from Hurriyat and if the call was given, it was marginalized to a particular area.
One of the biggest issues with Hurriyat is that it never moved beyond the tactic of strikes and Hartals. Strikes cannot be wholesale expression against the atrocities committed on people by the forces. Like this, there are other indicators that this amalgam is short of plans in any case and particularly when which comes to rehabilitation of those affected by the violence.
They have no long term plans about the resolution of the dispute and no discussions debates are organized to shed light on the various possibilities of a resolution. What if we are given a chance, since it doesn’t seem that we will be able to achieve a chance politically, are we upto the mark to decipher the pros and cons of such an eventuality? Many think a big NO!
A recent case about the pension of a senior Hurriyat leader is one of those issues that are not discussed in public forums and an impression is created that ‘it is his right to receive the pension’ without being able to justify how. He was not able to state that they are not demanding anarchy but freedom. This means that hypothetically a post-independence scenario would be one in which the current mainstream politicians shall be liable for drawing pension. How is it going to be different than now? The same government which is holding the reins of the power in the state would be elevated to the level of the central government; may be for one day or an hour only but it will be the same government. Afterwards the people will be replaced or the type of government could be changed. In that sense the state government should be fully recognized by them without the people who are heading the government.
The Hurriyat is lacking on various other fronts, they lack in community development programs. They have no alternatives to educate students when the schools remain closed for long periods on account of strikes and Hartals. They do not have any economic plans which could make the state a sustainable region that could make the independence of the state sustainable in the long run. Without proper community development, without education and without proper economy Kashmir as an independent country is not possible, and never sustainable.
Wisdom lies in realizing the shortcomings in the operational and functional areas of the organizations of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and acting accordingly. Taking corrective measure where such measures are needed and putting them into perspective. The amalgam needs the confidence of the people and without that the credibility of this important movement will keep on eroding which is a great loss.
There is no doubt that the people associated with this movement have rendered great sacrifices but when they have chosen the lead role, the sacrifices and responsibilities are part of it. Any deviation of their words and deeds would shatter the whole edifice which they have erected by their own efforts and sacrifices. Some ears from the Hurriyat need to be hearing and some eyes require to be seeing to prevent the party from becoming irrelevant.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]