It is usual practice with the flight crew of a long range passenger aircraft going on long flights usually inter-continental ones, to put the aircraft on “Auto-Pilot”. The “Auto-Pilot” controls all functions of the flight along a pre-determined flight path. The pilots can even go to sleep one by one with someone from the crew remaining awake to retrieve the aircraft from automatic controls during any sudden or unusual weather disturbance or some other mechanical problems enroute.

A similar situation exists with the state administration in Kashmir these days. The pilots have put the Valley on “Auto-Pilot” and have gone to the salubrious climate of Jammu for the winter break. In fact, the whole Kashmir both administratively and politically has been on an “Auto-Pilot” for last 70 years or so!

Politically, all the stakeholders have been almost mechanically following certain set flying paths. Some are on the “Mainstream” path while others are on so called “Separatist” path. Both seem to be using “Auto-Pilots” and take manual control only when there is some major “Weather Disturbance” on the route! Both the crews have been making hay while the Sun shines! The poor passengers have always been left high and dry!

There are two antagonistic claimants who declare themselves to be the owners of the Aircraft called Kashmir. While one side has the physical possession of the same, the other side claims that the Aircraft is legally their property and has been stolen by this side. Unfortunately, none of them is bothered about the fate of the passengers stuck on the aircraft! The tragedy is that there appears least possibility of the aircraft safely landing somewhere!

The misfortune of the passengers is that the landing gear of the aircraft is stuck and none of the Global Air Traffic Controllers are prepared to guide the aircraft for a safe landing somewhere! The only possibility seems a crash landing after the aircraft runs out of fuel! The only silver lining is that the passengers are least bothered about the ultimate fate of the aircraft and are enjoying the discomfort of the crew who are now fighting among themselves!

Regarding the “Developmental” side of the flight, the less said the better. The proverb that left hand does not know what the right is doing absolutely fits the situation. Let us start with the power scenario. According to Power Engineers themselves it is the worst power situation Kashmir has ever faced.

The irony is that there is enough power available in the market and our rulers are ready to pay for it but we have no way to carry it home. This is allegedly thanks to some bureaucrats who have been sitting on the proposals for expansion in receiving capacity for years! It seems the bureaucrats are ruling the roost everywhere.

Normally, in a democratic government, the policy and power flow down from the ministers but here it seems some of the ministers are not aware of this fact and depend totally on the bureaucrats surrounding them! Ultimately, it boils down to accountability from the lowest to the highest level, which, unfortunately, is totally missing in the present set up!

Another instance of “Auto-Pilot” pertains to the flood prevention measures. No one in the government including the Chief Executive seems to be really bothered about it. The “Auto-Pilot” will stop once another disaster strikes! It will be too late then! Instead of the works connected with these flood prevention measures being monitored on a continuous basis, no one is showing any serious concern and one only hears routine announcement that some of the measures are being executed.

Three years is a long time. These measures should have by now been completed in all respects especially when the Chief Executive of the state is supposed to be heading the Committee for implementation of these! The stark example is the flood spill over channel. She needs to take a trip along its banks!

If one goes on describing the situation in various other administrative fields, it will take many columns. No one seems to be really in charge. Things seem to be moving on their own like an aircraft on a long range flight switched on to an “Auto-Pilot”! The captain needs to wake up and take full charge before the aeroplane crashes!

The captain appears to be scared of Delhi! In fact, the reverse should have been true. Delhi should have been scared of the Captain as she could abandon the aircraft anytime she likes along with its Delhi passengers! Let us hope the captain becomes a real commander and takes charge of the aircraft by switching on from “Auto-Pilot” to manual in all respects otherwise there is every chance of the plane crashing without warning!