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Also published on Blogs, Kashmir Dispatch
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Kashmir has been transformed from a beautiful vale to a wretched conflict, like a despondent poet, blossoming in pain, reciting ballads of war and violence. It has been torn to pieces by the many ill facets of ghastly wars. Only failures have made a political history here, awakening the memory of death and suffering every hour amidst the countless helpless victims of the conflict.
Kashmir is a land of failed political conjectures, broken dreams, caged liberation and frenzied mistrust. Words like ‘hope’, ‘agreements’, ‘developments’ have existed here, but only as rich rhetoric, through various political commentators and stillborn leaders. Ever since the conflict intensified, Kashmir has become the literary obsession of various observers, historians and activists, whose dissent has been faced with strong confrontation. The scope for visionary introspection has been weakening, like a senile old man struggling to resist.
Kashmir has been perceived as an independent state, a part of India, a part of Pakistan, as an autonomous region, a region with permanent borders divided through a Line of Control, a demilitarized domain under the control of UN peacekeeping forces, a state emerging through a unitary plebiscite - with or without external mediation; but still, no firm determination or unshakable resolution has ever been witnessed in any debating chamber of Indian and Pakistani diplomats.
The reasons are obvious: India doesn’t want Pakistan to fiddle in what it deems to be its personal affair, and vice versa. This remains the main theme of contention between the two nations whenever they talk terms and try to ensconce the encumbering emotional baggage of discontent Kashmiri people, who expect an unhesitant answer ever since the Indo-Pak partition unleashed misery and violence subverted peace of daily life.
As time passes, India is now attempting to completely move away from calling the Kashmir issue as any dispute at all. In recent years, governance and elections have been taken as a final resolution. Any discourse attempted is taken into consideration only under the ambit of the Indian constitution. Western countries and Indian allies are viewing the problem as silent spectators due to their geo-strategical and economic interests.
Reasoned debate has also started to get eroded. Many Hindu nationalist intellectuals have been rewriting history and projecting India as a Hindu country rather than a secular country. This propaganda has concerned Pakistan about the Muslim brethren across the Line of Control which has also given a political mileage to extremists and radical elements inside Pakistan.
The biggest problem in Indo- Pak resolutions is that they take short term solutions for the Kashmir dispute without any representative participation of the Kashmiri people. It has altered any good faith in evolving a national consensus, which has such deep rooted historic, religious and emotional significations. A clear and coherent public opinion needs to be institutionalised and revolutionised.
The psychological attitude pertaining among Kashmiris is that they feel occupied. There is no substitute for a resolution other than a sincere dialogue and process of self-determination. Kashmiris are frustrated due to lack of political freedom for decades and are saddled in social and economic grievances. It has made the need for a resolute resolution more pressing. Unless someone won’t recognise the depths of these wounds, it will only help in facilitating brinkmanship and belligerence.
© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir