and the signposts we can''t see
Mehmood-Ur-Rashid’s write-up "New Signposts of an Unknown Journey"( Greater Kashmir, June 30) is an another thought-provoking piece for those who have stopped applying reason to public matters. We and our actions seem to be guided more and more by pure passion devoid of rational analysis or even moral considerations. The author asks, "Why violence returned to Kashmir so suddenly on this scale and in dramatically different patterns?" While putting across his answer, he not only goes for a "mechanical" analysis of a conflict but also delves into deeper reasons behind the resurgence of militancy.
The first and the plain reason behind the rejuvenation of the cult of militancy is the persistence of the conflict itself and the failure of bigger powers- India and Pakistan to sort it out before it could explode again given the inherent contradictions of unattended grievances. A false peace-interlude during 2002-2008 was set to be proven deceptive. It couldn’t have been real because it was enforced on a tired population. When the fatigue went away, there were enough triggers that lay near-by which when pressed could instantly break the peace bubble. The chief trigger among these was the Amarnath land row. The years 2008, 2009 and 2010 saw an unprecedented galvanization of masses to give vent to their pent-up emotions. That is how the new-age resistance was born. This gave people a sense of liberation. It was a self-declaration of freedom. I remember many public rallies which comprised a sea of humanity demanding end to status quo without a a single incident of violence. If there was violence, it was on the the part of the state. People had revolutionary feelings and the state crackdown invited international rage. After one such crackdown on a rally, Carine Jodha Fitcher of New York Times described the event as "the day democracy died". Initially the state was clueless what to do with a silent revolution of sorts. Had it been reciprocated by the then government, we wouldn’t reached where we are today. However, it did what it only knows doing. It blocked every rally organized by people in favour of secessionism, every slogan raised in its favour, every programme organized by the Hurriyat leadership and even seminars conducted by them. This created a suffocating "politico-sphere" which created a space for militancy again. Now a million dollar question was how to control the march of this galloping horse – by letting free the bridle or handling it so that it could go where you wanted it to? That’s where the role of Hurriyat conference could have been important. Granted that they had little options given the brutal state crackdown which was expected and the restriction of the freedom of their movement. But we can ask differently – when they could galvanize an emotionally charged populace for all sorts of sacrifices through protest calenders and press statements, why couldn’t they countenance public discouraging of militancy which they knew was going to be counterproductive? While they rationalized the young boys’ resorting to self-annihilation, they did little to discourage a path which could consume human lives like flies. Riding people’s emotions is too opportunistic to have positive consequences. A simple public request not to fall prey to a time-tested euphoria of futile revolutionary heroism could have saved the atmosphere to go adrift so that it’s in no body’s control. Add to this the juggernaut of occupation which knows multiple ways of defeating you. If it fails in the battlefield, it will fight you out through a warfare of (dis)information. On both of these fronts, we are incapable of turning tables in our favour. State is as such a ruthless creature which the world believes has a "successful claim to legitimate violence" despite occasional civil society protests. In our case, the ratio between the conflicting parties of the conflict is thousands of times greater than that in the Battle of Badr (a symbol of asymmetrical warfare) not only in terms of number but in terms of strength as well. This situation was recently described by a journalist as "world’s most asymmetrical warfare. As the Meccan period of the Prophet(SAW) demonstrates, during trying and provocative circumstances especially when you are materially not in a position to fight actively with your enemies (who have declared war against you) with foreseen beneficial consequences, not only resorting to war is unwise but even discouraged by Islam. That is where patience not only becomes a prophetic virtue but also stands valued by the Book of Allah.
Understanding this is doubly important for those who have a habit of not only "combining" Islam and Politics but "mixing" them together so much so that an averagely learned Muslim fails to tell apart which is which. Taking inspiration from Islam is one thing, mixing it with matters mundane by invoking Islam-as-a-complete-way-of-life argument is quite another. This is one of the unfortunate aspects of our struggle. Symbolic of this confusion is the turning away of yesterday’s votaries of Kashmir issue being Islamic in nature rather than political towards denouncing those who make these childish declarations today. As Mr Mehmud Ur Rashid writes, " The narrative of resistance that mixes religion and politics furiously in one large cauldron of violence is singularly ensuring the death of politics in Kashmir". As the murder of Shuja’at Bukhari demonstrates, we could be in for confusing circumstances where not only no one knows who kills whom but no one is able to talk politics. As per one of the traditions, Prophet Mohammad (SAW) is reported to have said that "a believer cannot be bitten from the same hole twice". We ignored this prophetic advice and fell into the same abyss again.
(Syed Shafiq Ahmad teaches at the Government High School,Wani Dorusa Lolab)