Kashmir’s Political Self

The search for peace and containment of violence is always present in conflict zones, though in different measure and rhythm. No matter how crusted the violence in any conflict zone might be, the ...

The search for peace and containment of violence is always present in conflict zones, though in different measure and rhythm. No matter how crusted the violence in any conflict zone might be, the urge for peace never dies. It's this urge that can take the shape of an enterprise of peace. One marked exhibition of this urge is the formation of political in the time of violent. The presentation of demands in political language and the emergence of political parties in the conflict zones is the concrete depiction of how the content of peace is present even in the times violence. Different peace processes world over bank upon this urge for peace.
Kashmir was largely absent on this intense discourse over peace and violence that had grown in conflict zones, till 1989. It was in this year that the old order of things started melting away, giving birth to violent ways of thinking and doing. Underground armed activities took over Kashmir completely leaving barely any space for political activities. Even the routine social expressions disappeared for a while. But the chances of peace did not die completely. Even in that underground armed movement the elements of peace were present. It was later expressed in the formation of political platforms, and emergence of a political leadership. Slowly the political content heightened, and the exchange of contestation started predominantly taking place in political language. This way the urge for political expressed itself manifestly. It was the formation of political platforms that could allow the state to approach the other side of the line. In the later years different kinds of political engagements happened, till the time, as late as 2002, the murmurs of peace process reached Kashmir. Though it did not yield results that could make it real to the people of this conflict zone, but it unfailingly pointed in the direction of peace.
The point that one can make is this: there is a deep rooted urge in Kashmir to act in political ways and this can become a formidable basis for a peace process, provided the benefits of peace process are made real to people. It's in search of that initiative, in categorical political terms, that Kashmir even to this day is undergoing the bouts of violence.
 About the "latest phase of Kashmiri discontent", Eqbal Ahmed was of the opinion that besides "political disenchantment" it was "mired in history, economics and psychology". With the widening base of "middle class" the educated Kashmiris came face to face with restricted chances of "social mobility". Abolition of "feudal control" and growth in education was not accompanied by the required "economic growth". This brought a "hopeful" population in confrontation with its limitation. Herein is an important lever to approach and understand Kashmir. It was not by chance, or by neglect of the powers that controlled Kashmir, that such a situation arose. It is a fault that is stationed firmly within the post 1947 politics of Kashmir. The time Kashmir thought that her political urge was about to be realized a paradox appeared to associate closely itself with that urge. As a historic "surprise" the absence of Kashmiris in the "enterprise of governing them" went straight into post 1947 period which saw the emergence of India as an independent country, and Jammu and Kashmir as its part, though in different degrees of contestation within and without. (Rai, 2004: 4).
The conclusion drawn by Sumit Ganguly (1996) that the "origins of insurgency" can be explained in terms of "two interlinked forces of political mobilization and institutional decay", is inadequate, if not erroneous. (Ganguly, 1996: 79 –100) The development of institutions in Kashmir, political and economic, dependent on how the political urge and its associated paradoxes are understood and dealt with. If the urge is denied, the very talk of institutions becomes invalid. So it is in the logic of things that institution cannot grow in Kashmir unless the primary question is not adequately answered. The collapse of Kashmir into violence becomes imminent if a political initiative is not unleashed to find answers to the political urge; and not to create paradoxes around it. Kashmir's history clearly suggests that a process that is political in nature and takes into account the deep political urge of Kashmir only can bring peace to Kashmir. And this peace can be sustained and made formidable only if the paradox of Centre-State relationship is disallowed to confront the political urge of Kashmir.  It is equally important that the political initiative takes into account the fact that unless Kashmir's polity is strong enough to function without interference from the neighboring power centers, things cannot hold for long. "The basic norm that must be respected is minimal interference by the central governments of India and Pakistan". (Bose, 2007: 195) To this end the two neighboring countries have to take extremely bold initiatives riding over the historical biases.

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