For India, Kashmir is a symbol of her secular identity and the only window that opens towards Central Asia
The geopolitics of British India in 1947 has emerged as the most important discourse for the contemporary India and the subsequent expansionist intent of Pakistan to annex Kashmir in 1948 to realign the geographical boundaries laid the foundation for the ongoing proxy war in the State. The indelible factors of ‘religion’ and ‘location’ reinforce the geopolitical significance of J& K and its strategic importance have feuded the seven decades of animosity between India and Pakistan. For India, Kashmir is a symbol of her secular identity and the only window that opens towards Central Asia. From Paks’ perspective, the Two Nation Theory insinuates the Muslim majority of Kashmir to Islamic Pakistan. It also provides them with the much-desired land access to China.
Responsible journalism must be enforced if not willfully enacted so that secessionist voices don’t get centre stage and unwanted international sympathy
Independence of India and Pakistan was a chaos, abetting the conflict and hatred amongst those who once joined hands to fight against the British Raj. At the time of partition, Princely states were a peculiar issue – they were technically free to accede to either dominion or remain independent; however, sovereignty was only a theoretical option.
The mistake of Maharaja Hari Singh, the Hindu ruler of Muslim majority state, to remain independent humiliated the Islamic identity of Pakistan and the consequent war of 1948-49 made Kashmir the longest running agenda at the United Nations. India claimed the state after Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession, but for Pakistan, it still remains the unresolved issue of the Partition.
One of the core reasons for this protracted instability is the ‘special status’ Kashmir enjoys in the Constitution and Governance; that makes the State elusive of National reality and mainstream India. Harsh that it might sound, but the bane for Kashmir ‘is’ and ‘has’ been the infamous Article 370, obfuscated under layers of misleading conveniences and privileges. Article 370 is a Constitutional document codifying the bargain between Nehru’s failed promise of Plebiscite and Sheik Muhammad Abdullah’s ambitions to rule the State. The ‘Temporary Provisions’ of the Article have survived generations of illogical policy veiled behind the facades of a pseudo-Kashmiri nationalism. The near ‘Permanency’ of the Article suggested by the High Court of J&K and Mehbooba Mufti’s unflinching stand is the paradox of Modi’s manifesto of 2014 general election and argues the integrity of Kashmir’s territory.
Pseudo intellectuals, biased media and Pak financed ‘separatist outfit’ have carefully crafted the narrative of a Kashmiri struggle against India and Indian Army, who have been portrayed as invaders out to destroy Islam in Kashmir. Sustained religious propaganda and the ingenious modus operandi (such as stone pelting by unarmed mobs) has outflanked the strategies of successive Central Governments to bring normalcy in the State. The Hindutva and RSS characterization of BJP government, which is a coalition in State and absolute at Centre, further cripples any scope for reconciliation.
The Hindutva and RSS characterization of BJP government, which is a coalition in State and absolute at Centre, further cripples any scope for reconciliation
Over 4 lac Kashmiri Brahmins, the once respected Kashmiri Pandits, continue to live as refugees in their own country, in refugee camps of Jammu and Delhi in appalling conditions. The BJP manifesto of 2014 promised the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the land of their ancestors with full dignity, security and assured livelihood. However, it is far from reality and completely unattainable because of the alliance between two ideological extremes (BJP & PDP).
Pakistan has launched repeated conventional wars to occupy Kashmir but successfully failed each time. Later it adopted the grand design of a protracted low-intensity conflict to slowly bleed out India. Since 2008 there has been a change in the approach; misguided youth have been funded and aroused to organize mass upsurges based on the absurdness of Aazadi, fake ipseity of Burhan Wani and manufactured lies of Army’s cruelty. Indian Security Forces have been battling this Pak sponsored proxy war for last three decades and thousands of braves have sacrificed their lives, yet the political goals to define the military strategy have neither been formally decided not exemplified. Completely out of context and profile, the military has also been entrusted the responsibilities of winning hearts and minds and developing infrastructure, an errand objective for which it is neither trained nor organized.
Since a sound political strategy for Kashmir is never in sight because of its complexity, uniqueness and a slimy neighborhood; the intellectual proposal for a status quo and ‘Kadi Ninnda’ is being used as a shield for strategic indecision. The excuse of religious struggle and Jihad is merely the currency cover for the lack of political will.
There is never going to be a one line solution for Kashmir, but for any form of normalcy, the writ of the National law must prevail, and not Article 370. Laws on sedition must be enforced to starve the separatists propagating anti-national sentiments. Ideally, they should be ‘media isolated’ without curbing the freedom of the press. Responsible journalism must be enforced if not willfully enacted so that secessionist voices don’t get center stage and unwanted international sympathy.
The benevolence of Kashmiriyat guarantees harmonious coexistence of Hindus and Muslims, who have happily lived together for a very, very long time
By statistical, media and anecdotal accounts, Kashmir appears to be far away from peace and shall continue to remain a festering territorial dispute with Pakistan. The omnipresent political volatility in Pak, its overt radicalization and Talibanisation, affirms that it will continue with its nefarious design to harm India in every way possible. Any miscalculations or lowering of guard by Indian Security Forces will have to be paid with precious lives and reputation. Easier said than done, there is a need to review the threat holistically, evolve a 360-degree strategy of defence and offence; and more importantly, implement it without any political interference and knee jerk reactions.
Out of the 1,01,000 sq km of J&K, 86,000 sq km has no problem. It’s only the small area of Kashmir valley, i.e only 15,000 sq km, that has Terrorism and Separatism. Hence, the solution should be found in here. Under the present circumstances, Kashmiriyat is the only thing that promises peace and happiness for Kashmir. Academically it is the Ethnonational and social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people, but in reality, it is the awakening of the unsuspecting large neutral population, which is searching for peace and prosperity. The benevolence of Kashmiriyat guarantees harmonious coexistence of Hindus and Muslims, who have happily lived together for a very, very long time. It is the time that Shri Vajpayee’s doctrine of peace, progress, and prosperity for J& K; codified as Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Identity of the people of Kashmir) is made a reality.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
A travel junkie, she enjoys exploring the road untraveled with her husband.
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