Elections & Self-determination

Greater Kashmir

Are they mutually exclusive?

In India those who rejoice the heavy voter turn-out in ongoing JK Polls do so because they interpret it as the ratification of Kashmir’s union with India, by the people of Kashmir. I attribute such a belief to human nature, which tends to believe instantly what it wants to believe, without a dispassionate analysis, if the bias is involved. Now, the question may arise that, those having a counter opinion, including me, may also have a bias. So, let me put down the reasons of my opinion, rather than just an opinion, so that the readers decide for themselves.
I strongly believe that such people either do not know the genesis of Kashmir politics or are suffering from the post-hypnotic amnesia. These hyper-excited journalists and politicians of India must know that this is nothing new. Their predecessors also tried to sell these elections. In fact, they did not confine their excitement to the news rooms alone, but took it to the United Nations to get the pending resolutions of Kashmir off the UN plate. Yes, I am talking about the first election in J&K, held in 1951. People voted even then and India misinterpreted even then. As I have mentioned it in my 30th August GK column ‘BJP in Kashmir’ that the then representative of India at the UN pleaded that the people of Jammu & Kashmir have decided their future and that this election was an alternative to self-determination, hence the Kashmir question at the UN be struck off. Now please pay close attention to what I am going to say next. The United Nations General Council and the United Nations Security Council, after hearing Indian understanding of elections in J&K, not only rejected it but took it so seriously that they passed a resolution in this regard, stating as conspicuously as possible, that any election held in Indian held Kashmir or the Kashmir under Pakistani administration, should have nothing to do with self-determination of Kashmiris and that these elections were merely for the local administrative purposes. They did it so that India & Pakistan do not even attempt to go that way of superseding the UN, insidiously. Period. This whole noise of election turn-out being any indicator for Kashmir’s inclination towards India stands settled.
At the same time, we must admit that even though people did not vote for India, but they defied the Hurriyat’s boycott call, by leaps and bounds. Even that’s nothing new. It happened in 2008 as well, when Hurriyat’s hold on Kashmir was at its zenith. The high voter turn-out of the current election can be attributed to the fact that people want to keep BJP out. Even Hurriyat call, this time, looked just customary, as if they also didn’t want it. Again, it’s my own perception. However, we cannot deny that people, over all, differ with them on Election boycott, which gives room to many in India, to give it a different connotation. This is sheer indiscipline and chaos that although both, the people as well as the leadership, are connected to the cause but they are not connected to each other, which results in embarrassment of resistance leaders, who are taken as the symbols of Kashmiri resistance in India and rejection of even one opinion of theirs, by the people, is extrapolated and comprehended as Kashmir’s divorce to its cause, which misleads public opinion outside Kashmir.
This discourse may elicit a question in many minds, that if the UN has already separated the two – Elections & Self-determination – why issue a boycott call at all? Why wouldn’t Hurriyat publicly declare it a non-issue, agree with voter’s perception of it being merely an administrative affair and avoid the embarrassment of their defiance, or even use the same tool to come into the assembly and form the government and have, at least a greater say and a proven representative character? The answer is, that has been tried by the MUF (Muslim United Front) in 1987 and the Indian intentions were conveyed to us that they do not agree to such an arrangement where ‘Separatists’ with their agenda, can come into the electoral fray and be in the assembly, as should have been possible as per the UN. Then, there should not have been a need to take an oath of allegiance to the Indian constitution and also its stance on Kashmir. India openly refuses UN resolutions and one cannot expect it to be in its compliance. As per the UN, it is not necessary for the contestants to believe in sovereignty of India or Pakistan, as that would defeat the whole purpose of the UN. They are purported to be merely administrators. However, that is not the case, on ground. The recent proof, you saw of Sajjad Lone, who had to articulate his belief in ‘Integral part’ doctrine on an Indian national TV, even before assuming any office. So, yes, we would have wanted to separate elections from the larger K-question but India is adamant on coercing you to believe in its ‘integral part’ doctrine for you to even talk about roads & electricity, virtually making you its stooge, if you join state politics. This is its chanakya policy. The day it’s agreed upon that MLAs and ministers in J&K are really about development alone and not being marionettes, we should stop considering it a taboo to be involved in electioneering and even Hurriyat should go out and fight elections, then.

(Mehboob Makhdoomi is an MBA from Pennsylvania University (IUP) United States with a research degree from Cardiff University, United Kingdom. Email