The power of nearly 35,000 directly elected local representatives — 1,966 Sarpanchs and 13,760 Panchs in Jammu region and 2,164 Sarpanchs and 15,959 Panchs in Kashmir region — is being wasted by the state. It is not solely about disgruntlement of these leaders or their disillusionment with the state. Conflict in the state created its own political economy and the environment of conflict is now sustained by that political economy. Hopes were raised last year that an empowered, elected local leadership will destroy the ‘conflict’ political economy of the state. That opportunity has clearly been lost by the government.