Peace Eludes Kashmir

By Ashok Bhan

The brazen militant attack on an army camp and killing of brave soldiers is yet another reminder to security establishment that Militants are on focused mission. Their masters across and Pakistan’s military continue to support such terrorist attacks to keep the country off balance and draw the international mediation in Kashmir. Pakistan’s use of terrorist groups as part of its security and foreign is function of its obsession with India, which it perceives as existential threat. Pakistan’s paranoia regarding India is unfounded.

Pakistan has started to reboot its ties with US and end the stale-mate of last few years. US-Pak relations have been on the downside because of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden hiding in Pakistan.

International community has not remained oblivious on Kashmir situation. Recently Nikki Haley expressed US concern over the situation in South Asia spiraling into a dangerous conflict hinting at Kashmir imbroglio. The other hostile countries and the international Human Rights groups are curiously studying the Kashmir affairs awaiting the opportunity to meddle. The unending cycle of protests and retributive security measures have stained our democracy optically in the eyes of international opinion.

It is clear now that India is not willing to renegotiate Kashmir’s territorial status. Designating Pakistan as a State sponsor of terrorism in India and Afganistan and posing threat to the stability of South Asia is Indian diplomacy mantra.

Inwardly deciding about the fate of the State and ‘Kashmir’ in particular by Governments without taking on board all the stake holders, the exiled population and without due deliberations amounts to behave “as a bull would in a China shop”.

Jammu & Kashmir State, consisted of its distinct entities in five separate regions with nothing common with each other. The hill areas of Gilgit, Baltistan and Skardu and the Punjabi-speaking areas of Muzzaferabad etc; are with Pakistan. In Indian part of the State, there are three divisions- namely;-Hindu dominated Jammu, Suni Muslim dominated Kashmir and Shia community while the Pandits, Sikhs and Gujjars, Buddhists and Shia populated Ladakh.

The idea of India has with great efforts integrated these diverse divisions as the mosaic of different ethnic, religious and tribal groups and united these together in a culture of mutual tolerance and creative interaction as a plural and democratic JK State. Unfortunately it has got engulfed in the worst phase of militancy, intolerance and distortion by the self-serving myths of competing political interests. The current situation in the Valley is self explanatory.

In the present times unlike past, when Kashmir used to enjoy the glory of peace and rich civilization plural ethos popularly known KASHMIRIYAT all over the world, ,the situation in Kashmir is; the radicalization is taking over the Socio-Political discourse and gaining greater appeal and the pro Pakistan narrative which was noticeably very weak, has also become apparently strong. The recruitment of local boys in the ranks of militancy is phenomenally on the rise. The new age youth and students are up in protest against the very Idea of India and democratic process in the Valley. The young innocent lives and armed forces personnel are lost on a daily basis.

The lowest ever turnout of voters in Srinagar parliamentary constituency followed by violence and loss of nine innocent lives raises serious questions on the competence of dealing with the affairs of Kashmir both on law & order front and for upholding the idea of India and democratic process in Kashmir, by State and central Government. The political space of main stream polity has shrunk.

That even after the continuing death and destruction unleashed by mercenaries the non-State actors since 1989, the colossal sufferings of the large components of Kashmir society, the Muslims and the Kashmiri Pandits in exile and almost a generation in the grave yards:, Yet the Kashmiri population at the societal level has the sense and understanding that; Pakistan and separatism cannot be and is not the option and “resolution of all the issues lies through a negotiated peaceful dialogue process”

New Delhi and PDP-BJP State Government could end up its case in Kashmir if the hot Military pursuit is not blend with regular dialogue or the semblance of it with the stakeholders including the agitationist’s youth is not given the chance. That is the overwhelming demand of top military brass, the security forces, the political class, the civil society and peace loving citizenry of the Country and JK State.

The difference between 2014 and 2017 elections is summarized as follows;

After long spell of militancy, despondency, death & destruction and cynicism, the 2014 elections in J&K had brought in hope of democracy and aspiration of economic well being in the people, and particularly the youth of Kashmir valley – that they would benefit from the democratic polity, the economic development and progress promised Prime Minister Modi to the aspiring young India, after his massive election victory in the Country. The youth of Kashmir in particular got inspired and joined the mainstream agenda by a larger participation in the elections.

The experiment of coalition between the two diametrically and ideologically divergent parties in the State PDP- BJP is tottering. It was expected, after the formation of the PDP-BJP coalition government, that it would follow a policy of containment, to limit and scale down the violence and open a peace process with inclusive political discourse and also bring in the economic prosperity through uniform and sustained development.

The revival of militant activity in the state and elsewhere is a serious issue and a serious reminder that the militant outfits are spread, present and active to strike anytime and anywhere. The educated youth in anger joining the militant ranks is hugely disturbing phenomenon, public support to militancy had considerably reduced but it has surfaced with renewed vigour.

Country expects the PDP-BJP Govt. in the State to blend the hot military action with political outreach and fan out with political activities in the Valley with the patriotic narrative and the agenda of governance. Recent meetings by Prime Minister and Home minister with Ms Mehbooba The first ever woman Chief Minister seems to have been business like wherein she has promised to take on to herself the task of enforcement of law & order and containing  unrest by legitimate political process and activities of her Party on the ground. She has once again fuelled the huge expectations of the youth and the people in general. She is still grappling and grasping the nuances of governance and it is hoped she delivers to best political and administrative abilities in due course. The political pundits in New Delhi and Srinagar rate her as -average- that is her big loss. She has to prove the Pundits wrong is also her challenge.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has assured all out help and support to her efforts to restore peace and bring in Valley to normal life for the people. The current turmoil and Loss of innocent lives on daily basis has imperiled “Democracy and Human Rights. Kashmiris yearn for peace and peaceful and secured life and liberty for the current and future generations.

The political uncertainty in the State has become part of grand militant strategy. The political leadership has to take a call that State does not slip back into the olden abyss. Therefore the leadership and the administration in Delhi and Srinagar has to be on the same page to work together with focus on the affairs of the State rather than their own predispositions.