Message from Capitol

Kashmir was snowed in, with most of the Valley reeling under the miseries of harsh winter, when came the news of the rioting at Capitol in Washington D. C early Thursday morning.

The riots were incited by the US President Donald Trump for he had deluded himself into believing that the voters had voted him to victory in the 2020 presidential polls and the results declared from November 3 onwards were part of a conspiracy by the leftists to deny him next four years in White House. These were the unsubstantiated claims of Trump, but there were others, as evidenced by ugly events at Capitol, who trusted Trump and went on a rampage. He had a connect with the rioters who wanted to disconnect the democratic outcome from the reality.

Shivering in freezing temperatures and drawing a solace in curses for the local administration that failed miserably in clearing snow, Kashmiris devoted an extraordinary attention to the riots in the capital of the world’s most powerful country for their own reasons.

Kashmiris, whose political consciousness is unparalleled, started analyzing the images of violence at Capitol. First, because of their interest in the international affairs; they have always viewed themselves as residents of a place considered as one of the biggest hot spots in the world, and also the way they had been reacting to the Palestine–Israel conflict, and other things that affected them because of growing Islamophobia across continents. Kashmiris never lost interest in the international developments even when the world failed to speak for them as loudly as they expected.  But that did not diminish their interest in the international affairs rather enlarged it for they wanted to know the real problem world was suffering from.

Secondly, they had invested a lot of their capital of hope in 1990s and early 2000s that the US would take them out of the conflict in which they were caught. It was because the Hurriyat and the mainstream were under the growing influence of America after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The US had emerged as the sole superpower after the fall of the Berlin Wall, rise of the liberal democracy in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.  The history took a dramatic but directional turn.

In those days, the US used highly diplomatic lexicon to tell Kashmiris how much it cared for them. “The US wanted India and Pakistan to resolve the issue as per wishes of the people of Kashmir. And, if both sides (India-Pakistan) agreed, we can play our role in resolving the (Kashmir) issue between the two.”

This was American way of saying that it is ready to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the issue. Donald Trump was blunt – he offered direct mediation only to listen from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India has the capacity and capability to handle its internal affairs better than others can even think of.

Coming to the January 6 rioting at Capitol, it has delivered a unique lesson to the world that superpowers, too, have their internal vulnerabilities to the base elements of the humans. The rulers, there, too, are as power hungry as dictators in what is contemptuously called “third world.”

Neither Trump’s four years in office nor what he did to upend the 2020 poll results through violent means would disappear from America’s history.  What happened at Capitol was not an accident? It was manifestation of the monster hitting democratic norms. The monster was a creation the way racism and polarisation had taken strong roots. Donald Trump could dent American democracy because there was a lot of political and racial ammunition. He just lit it.

Those who demonstrate contempt for the democratic processes and institutions cannot deliver sermons nor can they be the effective and neutral interventionists in the conflicts.  Now the world has started suggesting to America that it should heal itself first. So many internal conflicts are dotting the USA. The resurrection of “Black Lives Matter “movement in reaction to the murder of black men was a glimpse of the deeper troubles in America.

Its greater attention to its internal problems would have a direct impact on its international ambitions and the role that, many thought, would enhance under Joe Biden presidency. But unless it repairs itself from within, its international standing would remain as low as it is today.

The American standing as an inspiration for democratic and human rights values has eroded considerably.

Former U S Ambassador to India Frank Wisner, a frequent visitor to Kashmir, deeply involved in its affairs and the Indo-Pak contest over the Himalayan territory, was shy of acknowledging elections in Kashmir as the genuine reflection of the urges and aspirations of the people of Kashmir. The US has its own prism of looking at things, and it will not reverse with change in the White House, exchange of sweet words notwithstanding.

India should stop rushing to the US or, for that matter, to any other country, to seek a certificate of its democratic credentials, especially with regard to Kashmir. It should have confidence in its own democracy and democratic institutions with which it can heal the things. It should adhere to the democratic norms that world looks up to it for inspiration. Kashmir is an ideal place where it can make democracy more palpable and palatable than measuring it by the statistics of votes polled and counted.