Craving for peace
Absence of violence does not always mean peace
WORDS WITHIN BY FIRDOUS SYED
The wild mood swings of Kashmiri psychology may seem to be deeply perplexing? Nobody would have imagined a spectacle of bumper tourist season and huge turnout in the ongoing Panchayat elections, after the continued deep unrest of three years. In June last year, the blood of young innocent boys was splashed all over the streets and smoke was billowing from the rooftops in the Valley. What does this indicate; indifferent attitude of the people turning the dispute on Kashmir irrelevant? Hardly anything unusual in the hustle and bustle, nothing has changed beneath. Battered people cannot continue to agitate endlessly without any respite; after all they too need a breath of fresh air.
New Delhi knows well that it’s a temporary phenomenon; sustainable peace in Kashmir is not possible unless Kashmir dispute is not resolved to the best satisfaction of people of the Jammu and Kashmir. Yet an influential lobby in the corridors of power, which incidentally frames the Kashmir policy, has developed a habit of viewing Kashmir problem purely from the narrow prism of economics. Understandably the self serving vested interest groups will like to imagine that the fleeting moments eventually turns into a permanent feature. Daydreaming? Yes off course, how it’s possible for the people to forget crushing indignities as well as immense sacrifices.
Peace is the real craving; freedoms and economic development are the means to reach such a destination. Absence of the conflict does not necessarily indicate arrival of a permanent peace, for peace to prevail people need to attain peace of mind. A forced peace or for that matter facade of peace is simply incapable of ushering an era of true peace. While the controlling powers are still not prepared to respect the dignity and uniqueness of the controlled, how is it possible for the bruised bodies and suppressed souls to reconcile with the idea of forced peace? Grind of the time capable of pulverizing to dust the profound aspirations of the people is absurd, rather a wishful thinking. Why myopic minds fail to realize that Kashmir is too identity conscious? Despite Kashmiri’s habitual vacillations, Kashmir has never compromised with its cultural and political identity. Kashmir’s political struggle since last seven decades bears witness to this very fact.
Nothing has altered substantially in Kashmir; Srinagar’s estrangement with New Delhi is as deep as it has always been. Rather emotional gulf has widened further. The promises of right to self determination, the broken promises afterwards; endless rounds of dialogues and the changing of goal posts and later to be finally told; clock cannot be moved backwards. Our generation had no experience of this treacherous past. We had only heard about the saga of betrayal. In building of a narrative history indeed acts as a reference point, yet personal experiences have ever lasting effect. The generation of ours which picked-up the gun was not fully convinced about the psychological trauma of past betrayals; we had not lived it we were only told by our forefathers about the duplicities. Yet we were ready to forget the history and make a new beginning, innately peace loving people wanted to move away from the conflict as soon as possible. What were our expectations, a basic minimum respect for our unique character and acknowledgement for our separate identity? On the contrary New Delhi was hell bent upon to destroy the unique Kashmiri character. It was due to the insulting behaviour, arrogance and dishonest dealings of rulers which pushed the boys towards an armed struggle.
Pakistan’s interference inside Kashmir and its support to militancy is well-established. However, issues in Kashmir go much beyond Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir. It may suit the interests of a few jingoistic nationalists to understand Kashmir purely through the prism of cross-border terrorism. This not only obfuscates the real facts but also destroys the prospects of any peace in Kashmir. With hindsight, it can be argued without any fear of contradiction that militancy has proved to be disastrous for Kashmir; it very nearly destroyed the indigenous character of Kashmir’s political struggle. And there are no two opinions about that the prolonged militancy causing irreparable damage to Kashmir’s social milieu. Yet, 1989 does not indicate the beginning of a conflict on Kashmir; actually with the advent of militancy, Kashmir took a turn for the worst.
After 1996 people of Kashmir had slowly started moving away from the militancy. New Delhi miscued the peace overtures of Kashmir largely; it misunderstood the fatigue with violence as surrender of political aspirations. Since 1996 Kashmiri leadership has in one way or other tried its best to work for an honourable way out. Time and again Indian leadership fixated with the idea of forcible assimilation of Kashmir, rebuffed rather humiliatingly the desires of a negotiated settlement. Ideally, it was expected for New Delhi to invest in peace-making. After having triumphed against Pakistan-sponsored militancy, if India had reciprocated the peace overtures of Kashmir sincerely, it would have reflected the strength of India rather that its weakness to finally win over the deeply alienated population of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir anticipated a dignified and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir; it might have even provided an honourable exit to Pakistan. On the contrary indignities of double- speak, and contempt has been heaped on us, forcing us, despite our deep disliking, re-living the bloody and ugly conflict. Irrespective of the eerie calm, conflict continues to occupy here the hearts and minds.
Manmohan Singh led government may be patting itself for effective crisis management; in reality dubious handling has reignited the conflict. Kashmir will continue to suffer owing to the presence of active conflict. But present Indian leadership has also done a great disservice to India. There can’t be any ill-will towards a rich civilization; rulers have deprived us of our legitimate rights. Kashmir wishes India to prosper and emerge as a strong nation but not on the crushed bones of our nationhood. History will never treat present set of rulers favourably. God forbid, this region is headed towards complete destruction. Present Indian leadership cannot escape the wrath of future historian for missing many opportunities for making sustainable peace, a reality. This was the time for Indian leadership to strike a most favourable deal, necessarily not entailing change of any geography. What happens to Kashmir is ultimately Kashmir’s fate; India has also been made to lose the sense of direction. Who is responsible, only its unimaginative leadership is to be blamed?
The navel gazing Dr. Manmohan Singh led regime has badly missed to understand the ever changing dynamics of the time. It looks, as Dr Manmohan Singh describes the “ancient animosities” between India and Pakistan has constricted the leadership of two countries to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Generally it is believed that Kashmir problem is a tough nut to crack, judging the intricacies involved, it might be true. However, if there was any possibility when this complex problem could have been resolved, it was during last few years. India lost that opportunity due to lack of political will and timidity.
Pakistan is badly infatuated with India and Kashmir, India too has failed to disentangle itself from the bitter history of past. While Pakistan is looking for a strategic depth in Afghanistan, India in search of toehold in Kabul wants to encircle Pakistan. The disastrous consequences of reckless brinkmanship were known already, Henry Kissinger a renowned intellectual has confirmed the worst fears. Casting a dreadful scenario after the impending withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan Kissinger explains: “What might happen, he says, is a de facto partition, with India and Russia reconstituting the Northern Alliance, and Pakistan hooked to the Taliban as a backstop against their own encirclement”. Kissinger chillingly remarks: “Think proxy half-states; the paranoia of encirclement; the bristling arsenals, in this case nuclear; the nervous, beleaguered Pakistanis lashing out in passive-aggressive insecurity”. Predicting a nuclear clash, former US Secretary of State and Nobel laureate, forewarns “An India-Pakistan war becomes more probable”. Kissinger emphasises need of a rational approach, “Therefore some kind of international process in which these issues are discussed might generate enough restraints so that Pakistan does not feel itself encircled by India and doesn’t see a strategic reserve in the Taliban.” Looking at the state of affairs, Kissinger seems to have developed a pessimistic view: “Is it possible to do this? I don’t know. But I know if we let matters drift this could become the Balkans of the next world war”. Anything which could have altered the disastrous drift towards total annihilation is the resolution of Kashmir, it was entirely doable is the real regret.
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 3 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 3 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 4 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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