Egypt uprising interests Kashmir observers
‘It Is Urge For Democratization, Due Share In Power Structure’
Srinagar, Feb 2: The uprising in Egypt to press for the ouster of President Hosni Mubark may not have any direct bearing on Kashmir’s political scenario, yet the political observers in the Valley are watching the developments very closely for varied reasons.
According to political analysts, there are some issues which give a clear-cut idea of what is happening in the West Asia right now, particularly in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Yemen.
Senior Counsel, Zaffar Shah, believes that the uprisings in Arab world signify the winds of change are blowing through the Middle East. “It also indicates that people are fed up with the governments which are personified and have continued as such for decades. The people are crying for democracy and for the first time they are demonstrating their collective strength by peaceful means and the state authority in such a situation cannot be used to crush the demand for change,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Shah said the people at the helm of affairs who were in power for the past more than three decades have not come up to the expectations and the systems which the governments there sanction have failed to deliver. “So therefore these winds of change are likely to give rise to a new Middle East, I believe, in the next decade or two. We hope that better educated people will come to surface giving rise to a new world order,” he said.
Asked if he felt there was any connection between Kashmir uprisings and the ones in Egypt, Shah said: “In appearance they may look identical but actually the issues are different. Therefore in that context these are two different situations. But apparently since people in Kashmir are publicly demonstrating against status quo, the people in Egypt also want to get rid of status quo,” he said.
Academics believe the uprisings in countries like Tunisia or Egypt was against oppression. “In Muslim world, most of the regimes are pro-United States and installed by the US. The despotic governments fight their existence by selling to the US that they are the containers of fundamentalists in their countries. Now it seems that the increasing oppression has made the people restive and are no longer ready to tolerate it,” said Dr Sheikh Showket Hussain, who teaches Law at the University of Kashmir.
He said: “We don’t know where the uprisings will lead the people ultimately. That remains to be seen as the pro-West elements may try to hijack this anti-West sentiment. So we need to wait and watch whether the dominant sentiment will win or there will be new pro-US regimes installed which may not be as notorious as the present ones.”
Professor Sidiq Wahid, the vice-chancellor of the Islamic University of Science and Technology at Awantipora, feels that the Tunisia and Egypt uprisings are an alert for everyone. “I think it is an alert for all of us on the importance of democratic norms,” he said. “It is also an alert on the importance of civil justices for youth. If you notice that in Tunisia and Egypt, it is mostly the youth who are on the streets.”
Political analysts feel there were many factors responsible for the crisis in Tunisia and Egypt.
“The first thing is that no particular ideology is actually the motivating factor as far as these protests are concerned,” says Prof Gul Muhammad Wani, who teaches Political Science at the University of Kashmir. “In other words, we can say that no particular ideology is driving the uprisings in the Arab World. There are elements of everything available. There is what we call pro-democracy elements; there are anti-globalization elements, radical Islamic elements and so on. So if you take all these elements together, they give us a sense of what is happening on ground. But no particular ideology is essentially at the centre-stage of the protests.”
Wani, who has been watching the developments in Cairo and Tunisia closely, said the protests indicated the basic urge for democratization in these countries. “There is a very universal urge in West Asia, and it is not a new thing. This is the urge for democratization of politics, of democratic institutions,” he told Greater Kashmir. “Globally what has happened is that civil society, Non-Governmental Organizations and Diaspora in these countries has got a lot of encouragement and boost in the past few years. This has also given rise to democratic consciousness in West Asia.”
Pertinently, on Thursday, The Pew Research Centre, a non-partisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world said: “With massive protests threatening to upend the three-decades-long reign of President Hosni Mubarak, the world has been captivated by the events in Egypt. In a survey conducted April 12 to May 7, 2010, the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project examined the views of Egypt and six other Muslim publics about politics and the role Islam should play in it. A 59%-majority of Muslims in Egypt believed that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. About one-in-five (22%), however, said that in some circumstances, a non-democratic government could be preferable, and another 16% said it did not matter what kind of government is in place for a person in their situation.”
Wani said since the dictatorial regimes were encouraged by the United States over a period of time, it has caused the urge for democratization. “The US is alarmed by the uprising since most of the authoritarian regimes there are backed by US. We can thus say that these protests may be indirectly against the US, though the slogans directly don’t suggest so. Yet the fact remains that US is rattled as the regimes have often been seen as pro-America,” he said.
Referring to the process of globalization and liberalization in Egypt and Jordan, Wani said these countries are very tightly connected with global economy now. “Globalization and liberalization has created problems in West Asia giving rise to a huge gap between rich and the poor. There is a gap between ruler and the ruled. There is a rising youth power which is growing conscious of the fact that their resources are being exploited by global powers,” Wani said. “That is because except Venezuela, all the Muslim countries are rich in oil reserves.”
In the aftermath of 9/11, Wani said it is not expected that there can be only armed rebellion against the regimes. “What is important is that the youth who are actually facing economic dislocation and loot of resources are bothered about the same,” he said. “Therefore it is the youth and intelligentsia there at the forefront.”
Referring to the evolution of media power in these countries, Wani said for a long time the authoritarian regimes have controlled the political culture there. “But because of information revolution, globalization and because of internet or new media channels like Al-Jazeera, which have more autonomous character and focusing on people’s aspirations, we find that peoples’ outburst has got international attention,” he said. “So the youth power and media power are combining against hegemony.”
Finally, Wani said, there has been a larger desire in the Muslim or Islamic world that whether Muslims as major contributors to global wealth are getting proportionate share in the global power structure or not. “You will not find this share there. This has been the feeling across the Muslim world that in spite of being a major demographic potential in Muslim wealth, they are not getting adequate share,” he said.
Wani said to say that there is a direct linkage between Kashmir uprising and that in Egypt won’t be fair. “If you take the global Muslim conscience or the global Muslim victim-hood, Kashmir figures in that ideological framework,” he said. “Then there is the issue that after 9/11, violence as an instrument of politics is nowhere preferred in the Muslim world. So peaceful protests by youth, intelligentsia have now been a norm.”
Suhail Masoodi, a Kashmiri who researches in the field of international development in China, believes that the Egypt uprising is going to bring a big change in the Middle East which “would be very important for the overall development of the region.”
He believes that there was no link between Kashmir and Egypt crisis. “But Kashmir should learn from Egypt that despite the people there being secular or religious, they are not raising unnecessary slogans. Our doing so threatens the western community that Kashmir is another Afghanistan in the making,” Suhail said.
Pertinently, on February 1, a Washington Post news story wrote that the protests in Egypt will reshape US role.
“The protests rocking Egypt could change the political landscape of the entire Arab world and beyond. Possible outcomes range all the way from pro-democracy forces taking charge in Cairo to - in a worst case - an all-out war bringing in Israel and Iran,” the story mentioned. “In between, there could be a long period of instability that could breed economic chaos across the region and derail economic recoveries in the U.S. and Europe.”
The story said Egypt, the world’s largest Arab nation, is critically important to U.S. foreign policy and to major goals the Obama administration is pursuing in the Middle East: the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, containment of Iran’s influence and nuclear ambitions, counter-terrorism.
The protests are going on for about a week now. Reports suggested that in Tahrir Street in Cairo, an estimated two million people participated in the protests during the past two days against Hosni Mubarak, with protesters asking him to step down.
On February 1, Mubarak declared that he would not stand for re-election but wouldn’t leave office either, determined to stay in power until elections in September.
Later, President Barack Obama talked by phone to Mubarak for 30 minutes and said in brief remarks at the White House that the Egyptian leader “recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place.”
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 3 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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