Aspirations and Grievances

Will the forthcoming Hurriyat visit address the former, the latter or none?



The Hurriyat is slated to visit Pakistan by the middle of December. They have been invited by the Pakistani Government and would be holding wide ranging discussions with the Pakistani state and Pakistani political leaders. There is a distinct symbolism to the concept of a state invitation to a Kashmiri group. It is an explicit acknowledgement by the Pakistani state of Hurriyat's representative character. The Hurriyat has evolved as an ideological stakeholder in the Kashmir issue. They occupy a scared political space in Kashmir- a space which symbolizes the sentiment and is a derivative of exemplary sacrifices. "Like them or hate them"- twenty years into the conflict they are the only evolved ideological entity identified with the resolution process. It is imperative that we nurture and protect their political space so as to facilitate the Kashmiri engagement in the resolution process. If they cease to exist the Kashmiri engagement in the resolution process will cease to exist too. There is a sustained and deliberate attempt to undermine the Hurriyat by eroding  the sacred political space occupied by them. The threat out here is not of multiple stakeholders but of fake stakeholders. The threat is of confusing concepts and contexts.
 It would be naive to deny the  existence of a sentiment. And more important to make the crucial distinction between aspirations and grievances. The core of the Kashmir conflict is the unfulfilled aspirations of the Kashmiri people not the unaddressed grievances of the Kashmiri people. They may come across as not very different terms. But the political and contextual connotations of the two concepts vastly differ. Grievances in the political perspective are present in every society. They pertain to micro parameters of governance and day to day administrative affairs. It is about bread and butter issues, issues of survival of the human being and are present in Kashmir as they are in every state in India. They are mainly economic in nature. But aspirations are a measure of the sentiment. They have macro parameters and pertain to incompatibility with the political system. Aspirations are specific to Kashmir and are not present in every state of India. They are political and psychological in nature. Whenever the indian Prime Minister talks of Kashmir, he talks of addressing the grievances of the Kashmiri people. He never talks of fulfilling the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The Indian Prime Minister is aware of "what he is saying" and "what he is not saying". It is time that we in Kashmir understand the depth of the difference between the concept of aspirations and grievances.
The difference of these concepts is politically symbolized in Kashmir by  two concurrent ideological discourses manifested by the presence of two strands of political parties viz the separatists and the mainstream. The mainstream parties are there to address the grievances while the separatists are there to fulfill the aspirations. Political equilibrium would have meant both operating within their respective ideological contours. But that hasn't happened. The PDP and the NC seek votes in the name of addressing grievances and market them as a vote for fulfillment of aspirations. There is a deliberate attempt to crowd out the Hurriyat and impinge on its space. This space is a sacred space as it has been carved by rendering exemplary sacrifices. The Hurriyat for all its follies is identified with this sacred space. In the last twenty years there were two sections of the Kashmiri society- the victims and the perpetrators. Both the PDP and the NC have a blemished and an unenviable past which identifies them with the perpetrators rather than the victims. It would be mockery of the sentiment if the those identified with the perpetrators were to don the victim caps and that is exactly what the mainstream parties are doing. It is like fake products in circulation. We have big brands of different consumer products and there are people who make a fast buck by manufacturing fake products and dressing them up in the same manner or with similar names. A fake will always be a fake. But they do end up confusing some people. And that is exactly what the traditional mainstream parties are up to. There is a deliberate attempt to confuse the people in Kashmir and people outside Kashmir. And giving the devil its due they may have succeeded to a certain extent. The Hurriyat too may have failed to jealously guard the custodianship of a sacred space and they would have to do what it takes to ensure that they remove the fake encroachments from the sacred space.

(Junaid Azim Mattu is the Srinagar District President of Peoples’ Conference. Ideas expressed personal. Feedback at   

Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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