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The path that Kashmiri leaders should take

Also published on viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Kashmir has been a place where our political history is like a conundrum for India and Pakistan where clashes of ideologies occur due to primacy of nationalism. For Kashmir, imposed foreign nationalism has been a dangerous trend – this nationalism is a doctrine where India and Pakistan dictates to us that their respective national culture should be superior to our culture, which is appallingly discriminatory, and that has shattered our need for the aspiration of independence, felt by Kashmiri people under foreign domination since decades.

Kashmir is in need for an amalgamation. Fractured regions plundered by both countries have made our ambitions difficult to achieve. Leaders from both countries know this. They themselves have recognised the fact that Kashmir is a dispute in countless pacts, but due to the complexities of legal interpretations made during the partition era, the war outbreaks, a pessimistic past for future reconciliation, lack of obedience to UN resolutions, and the growth of imposed institutions inside both administered territories has made our destiny empowered into fumbling hands. Therefore, this should create a need for a renewed and an efficacious strategy inside Kashmiri politics, where accommodation of commonality between different stratums of Kashmiri leadership occurs for ‘regional strengthening’, in order to conjure a political case that rejuvenates international attention.

Wajahat Habibullah, in his book, ‘My Kashmir: Conflict and the Prospects of Enduring Peace’ writes that the process of a joint political action for Kashmir’s resolution was given a parturition through APHC. He further states that Abdul Majid Wani, father of popular JKLF insurgent, Ashfaq Majid Wani, had himself pressed for the preference of a much needed political agitation, rather than a violent agitation. At the age of seventeen, the Head Priest of Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq united twenty three organisations into this amalgam. Since then, APHC has been known for expounding the cause for Kashmir’s settlement. Leaders from this forum have debated on national media of India and Pakistan, and have even performed meetings at national and international levels with top leaderships, foreign think tanks, but over the years, have also been met by differences in strategies required for joint action and regional mediation.

In order to restructure the regional politics in the region, all the Kashmiri leadership should go back to the UN resolution, 1948, August 13th, where Part III of the clause clearly states that the future status of Jammu & Kashmir should be decided according to the will of the people. This important UN document also states that Pakistan had lied about its troops fighting in J&K. Once the Pakistani leadership that time conceded this lie, the UN had no option but to ask Pakistan to vacate its troops - it also mentioned a need for withdrawal of troops from India once it was done. This stance was cleared by ‘Indian White Paper on Plebiscite in Kashmir, 1947’( page 77), which states that once the conditions for an absence of war is restored, a democratic method would be recognised for a plebiscite or a referendum, which might be held under international auspices. It was further reaffirmed on the White Paper, 1948 (page.3), that accession to India was granted only a ‘provisional approval’ until the will of the people will be institutionalised. Therefore, the analysis of this problem likely seems that until demilitarisation from both countries doesn’t get initiated, no visible political development can take place. Hence, all Kashmiri leadership must recognise this interpretation – whether they are leaders working for local governance, or leaders and stakeholders outside the electoral frays. If any deviation occurs in accepting this fact, then isn’t that an ambiguity for further ramifications in our regional politics?

Let’s take the example of Palestine. As a disputed territory, world leaders have never recognised its local governance as a just political resolution. These dynamics match our case too. So why should we recognise local governance as a final solution, or appreciate strengthening of ideologies of power sharing structures of India and Pakistan? Therefore, the political parties involved in governance in Jammu and Kashmir should make sure that they prioritise efforts which are made to address ‘regional co-operation’, in order to pave ways for bridging ‘perception and ideological gaps’, with stakeholders who are not involved in governance. This exercise should hold true for Pakistan administered Kashmir as well, in order to overlap political ambitions for nationhood. Hence, there is a need for leaders from both sides to critically analyse our political problem further.

All Kashmiri leadership should also evaluate the aftermaths of armed insurgency and their historic designs - the fundings and trainings of armed militants for religious extremism, the armed wings of our regional political parties who were finally oppressed by their trainers outside our regional borders, for foreign nationalism, or utilised for that matter, for strengthening politics of outlanders, and the need for dialogue with extremist institutions in operation. Sumantra Bose, in his book, ‘Kashmir: Roots of Conflict and Paths to Peace’, even writes that some armed rebels drew inspiration from valley’s local Sufi traditions, rooted in mystical piety and were seen as ‘spiritual fighters’ for the cause of Kashmiri nationhood – combatants who wanted to restore the political independence and economic aspirations through the means of arms, for all sections of Kashmiri people. However, the author even claims that armed rebellions have fallen prey to Indian and Pakistani interests too, due to ruthless diplomacies and the rise of religious nationalism. These known facts should also raise a debate amongst our local leadership regarding the outcomes of armed rebellions.

It is a known fact in Kashmiri politics that dangers of religious extremism have proven a problem for our liberation. Hindu and Muslim clerical leaders, should never at any cost, pioneer religious affliations in our policy making. They should rather pursue pluralism because extremism has and will result in more fatal communal discourses. Adventurism of nationalistic ideals marketed by both the countries doesn’t match with our ethno-national and social consciousness – Kashmiriyat. This important aspect should be recognised by all political parties especially leaders of  local governance – when choices of coalitions are made for local administration, regional co-operation due to a sense of cultural bondage and regional patriotism should hold a preference. From the last ten years, Kashmiri people, inside Indian administered Kashmir, have witnessed how national interests make regional politics a mere servitude to higher power centers. If there is a greater reconciliation between all sections of Kashmiri leadership, then that would make our case stronger for a resolution internationally. All these realities raise an importance of strengthening the need of our culture, in order to inject a reincarnated hope in our political arena.

There is a need to discourse the already prepared vision documents, constitutions, constructive strategies and restructuring policies.  It is time for the leaders to join hands, act responsibly, and appreciate a broader discourse amongst our debating chambers. Why should regional political parties responsible for governance fight just for power? That doesn’t serve interests of masses, or stakeholders outside the imposed statute law. They should rather use regional legislative power to harmonise our region, instead of resulting a prey to foreign nationalistic designs. 

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

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