Another ‘Peaceful’ Year

But this hardly changes the dire predictions for 2013

POINT OF VIEW

RIYAZ AHMAD


The 2012 is drawing to a close and on a peaceful note, much like 2011. Both years followed a more or less similar trajectory, starting with dire predictions of public unrest, barely escaping a potential crisis or two, but concluding normally. In between, the year did excellently well on all indices of normalcy: more than a million tourists, successful Amarnath yatra and as an icing on the cake, once again an overwhelmingly participated Legislative Council election. But  all through it an undercurrent of unease, or a public perception of it, continued to linger.


However, the two successive years of peace have hardly reduced the uncertainty of the situation in the new year. The predictions for 2013 can hardly be different. Once again we stare at a year that holds the prospect of a potential turmoil. It seems unnatural not to expect it, even while the two years of peace should have brought us around this expectation.
This brings up the question as to what is it about Kashmir that makes it compulsively abnormal, uncertain and unpredictable at the best of times. Or what is it that keeps the state precariously teetering on the edge. The answer to this is that the underpinnings of the situation remain unchanged while narratives are tweaked here and there, sometimes invented and enforced.
This doesn't mean Kashmir hasn't changed. It has and very profoundly so if we compare the current situation with the one through nineties. Except for three successive summer unrests to 2010, Kashmir has maintained a steady march towards normalcy.  And sporadic incidents of militancy has hardly changed this fact.
This change has been occasioned not so much by the factors within Kashmir as by the geo-politics playing across the broader region. And one singular event that made the biggest difference was 9/11. Its fallout severely circumscribed Pakistan's capacity to carry on the war in the state. The result was a gradual but steady decline in militancy in the state. But things are changing again. The world created by  9/11 is nearing its end. And a new world is emerging.
Kashmir is again at the threshold of a profound transformation and again this change will not be driven by the factors within the state but outside it, across the broader region. There are far-reaching regional changes in store. Pakistan is going to polls in 2013 and the country is already in the election mode. In fact, Islamabad has already been witnessing  some play of the electoral politics with the political rise of the legendary cricketer Imran Khan. Similarly, the parliamentary elections in India  are scheduled to be held in 2014. And by the mid-2013, the government in New Delhi will have its eyes firmly fixed on the polls, with its each move dictated by the need to appeal to a wider constituency.
As for the future dialogue between India and Pakistan, there are many major geo-political factors that the region has to contend with before it goes ahead. US exit from Afghanistan will be one of the most significant such developments. It has the potential to unleash new dynamics in the geo-politics of the region  which in turn will reshape the priorities of India and Pakistan.
This makes 2013 a big transition year, a point of inflection as it were. Kashmir in and of itself can do little to impact these developments but these in turn can change the way Kashmir problem is perceived both within and outside the state. The challenge for the separatists, the only forces questioning the status quo in the state, is to prepare for this transformation rather than be singularly dictated by a past that has ceased  to exist. And this in any way doesn't mean they have to compromise their politics.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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