Wednesday, 14 January 2015


If there is anything that keeps India and Pakistan in the news in the international media, it is the hasty statements each country continues to make against each other. The recent comments are that Pakistan is continuing a proxy war in Kashmir and that Pakistan will not continue talks without the Kashmir agenda.
The recent cancellation of secretary level talks provided yet another political storm between India and Pakistan and simultaneously another controversy in Kashmir witnessed another development yesterday when Pakistan denied any talks with India without Kashmir on the agenda.
After India cancelled the talks, Pakistan justified its stand and treated the separatist brigade as equal stakeholders, however India criticized such a stand and advised Pakistan of either choosing the side of the separatists or the Government of India. While separatists argue that the Kashmir issue has never been an internal matter of India, yet another political uprising has started when Pakistan ruled out any dialogue with India sans Kashmir talks.
Currently there are hardly any political leaders who enjoy the full credibility among general masses in the conflict ridden Kashmir Valley, yet the people in general want talks between two nuclear states for the sake of peace. People understand the reluctance of both the states against or for talks on Kashmir as ego-politics and perceive it as a power game of India and Pakistan.
While the mainstream brigade is highly criticized for their hollow cries and no practical role in the Kashmir solution, so far, the separatist camps are also not eulogized much by a significant section of society on the issues of their (separatists) internal divisions and lack of unity.
The fact remains that the separatists have always been close to the Pakistani governments, which has not been appreciated by the Indian State. It may not be wrong to say that Pakistan has been organizing such diplomatic events so unprofessionally and as per analysts, never stopped its instrument of terror policy against her neighbors. Back home, people also feel confused when Hurriyat elements readily subscribe to Pakistan’s irresponsible statements on Kashmir without even considering their own stand on Kashmir like the recent one by Pakistan Army Chief that Kashmir is its jugular vein and later the awkward justification by Pakistan PM’s advisor that the statement was in response to India’s statements on Kashmir (as its integral part) during its election speeches.
Conscious people in Kashmir ask the fundamental question. Their hopeless urging is, who are we the Kashmiris in this whole political game when the Indian government does not recognize any of our leaders for talks? Do we count anywhere in the whole Kashmir dispute, they ask? Does our opinion matter really as people of Kashmir, as this is our issue and we should have the discretion to explain our position at any such diplomatic plate form? They also maintain that the two nations play their politics of rivalry and settle scores with each other via a war of words, but who actually cares about the suffering of Kashmiris who are dying every day unaccounted for amid the mockery of probes and reports? Also it is being argued by masses that what makes our separatist brigade unwelcome for talks and why is there a flow of unreasonable statements both by Pakistan and the center? Why do the so-called leaders change their stance so briskly and get swayed by Pakistan statements? Why is there a so unreasonable bias for Pakistan’s unprofessional diplomacy and perpetual claims on Kashmir? And if Pakistan really loves Kashmir, why do they target civilian areas on the line of control (LoC) which continues even today and thousands of people have left their homes from the Indian side of the border.
Sociologically speaking, a shift is being witnessed in political aspirations in Kashmir. While Pakistan is eager to increase its stance on the Kashmir issue, the so-called stake holders in Kashmir want to cash in on every such hasty opportunity. However, the government at the center, which has been maintaining that the Kashmir issue will be resolved under the ambit of humanity, seems irritated by such developments and treats such steps of Pakistan merely as an interference.
Actually peace building should have been the priority of all such stake holders, but the problem is that they see peace building efforts as a non-political activity. The worst is witnessed today as the already little manufactured peace in the Valley has not been institutionalized and with the result that the mass anger instead of decreasing has witnessed an upward trend. But on the same note, rural politics and rural political aspirations — a significant chapter of Kashmir politics — has undergone a drastic and confusing shift, i.e. a minor chunk still clings to freedom sentiment, while the majority has embraced the local mainstream politics and some of them are even active in political campaigning and active participation, etc, (still the sentiment never dies down).
Some of the sensitive rural belts have not been effectively tackled and the credit goes to a lack of vision and sloth-ridden strategies of the state. Either sensitivity has been treated by staying away from the people with no reaching out to young minds who live in their own fantasy world, or the maps of vulnerability have not been drawn at all to see through and scan the deteriorating parts.
What one could infer from these grass root observations is that a fatigue has been developed by the masses who have listened to and followed everything until the recent past. Most of the people want to live in peace and a secure atmosphere, however that very peace bade goodbye to the blissful Valley before 1989 — and is yet to return due to never ceasing political storms and  continued vulnerabilities. The public anger, and counter anger, and hatred has grown among the communities, people treat others as rivals even when sometimes the rivals are not known personally. Space for others and other ideologies has gone to the dogs and everyone wants his school of thought to prevail. Now a majority of angry young men argue that who-so-ever is in any sort of politics in Kashmir is a traitor of the nation Kashmir. They are not happy with the government, opposition or the separatists, but hopeless with the status quo. An alarming disconnect of the power elite is witnessed and this inability to connect makes people say that they have been voting now for decades for these political parties who tell them every time that Kashmir issue is going to be solved. And as the failures of talks or round tables continue, a deep pessimism strengthens among the youth mindset that actually makes them feel the violence as justified. They also say that they don’t know the politicians or other brigades personally, reflecting lack of reaching out by the so-called leaders of the Valley. People also ask, “Have they ever tried to know about our woes? Never ”.
After meeting the common masses in my area recently I picked up some clues of Kashmir’s politics of uncertainty. People have been giving extra Importance to personalities and a personality cult politics has emerged that has sent rationality to the gallows. The significant importance has been vested in some few individuals purely for personal interests otherwise their (the local leaders) idea of Kashmir is a disaster. People talk much about the need for effective leadership without knowing that effective leadership needs inclusive ideas of peace and development. We in Kashmir haven’t seen both. People talk of handling things better in Kashmir and are firm in the idea that things have never been handled in Kashmir politics, but instead the reverse has been happening. The accuracy at handling violence in Kashmir has been lessening as we go along. People talk of the conspiracies, of manufacturing dissent and consent in Kashmir historically, without even knowing that the very idea they cling to is also manufactured through excessive political socialization and decades of indoctrination. While observing this, my conjecture proved to be a reality, where there is instead of a right to cast a vote to leadership, everything is artificially manufactured and the consent of unknown is sought from masses.
Last Word
Pakistan’s tantrums and hasty steps hardly benefit Kashmir. There is a need to understand the Kashmir issue in a different way without displaying big brotherly attitude from either side, which US calls the historical mistrust between the two states.
The continuous tumultuous situations, the perpetual leadership crisis in Kashmir, status quo on Kashmir talks, and continuous human rights abuses and killing sprees have left the Valley masses literally confused about the future. Such a pathetic situation has to be considered while inviting any stakeholder for talks — and talks have to be effective for the sake of humanity now as the Kashmir issue so far has witnessed hundreds of ineffective round tables and failed negotiations. Endangered peace has taken away the feeling of a secure psyche of bemused masses as even criminals murder the masses under the garb of unknown gunmen besides a plethora of public issues in the absence of a peoples’ government at the moment. Even the government formation in Kashmir is a victim of ego clashes leaving the people to suffer — and who have been suffering now for decades and never yet seen a leader who could heal their wounds.
Adfar Shah
Adfar Shah (Adfer Rashid Shah, PhD) is a New Delhi-based Kashmiri Sociologist and well-known social analyst and columnist at various reputed media groups. Adfar Shah has written sixty academic publications besides hundreds of conceptual articles. He has been writing on South Asia's socio-political realities at Eurasia Review since 2012, where he is Special Correspondent for South Asia Affairs.

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