Saturday, June 19, 2010

The most complicated aspect of Kashmir issue is leadership

Bashir Assad
Although the separatist leadership in Kashmir often describe the ongoing resistance as a conscious movement aimed at the liberation of the land from an “illegal occupation” their policy, if any, is driven by a deeper fear of Indian and Pakistani establishments and their approach has been characterised by a series of instant but occasional moves ,lacking a coherent strategy or a planned end game. Since the inception of militancy in 1989, the so called resistance leadership pursued ad hocism and does not have a clearly thought out endgame. Although Kashmiri leaders, are proactive in acting swiftly over the developments mostly in connection to the human rights violations by the security forces, Kashmiris are watching with extra caution. These leaders apart from raising their voice against the rights violations, only issue statements that smack of traditional rhetoric. given their own motivations, there is not much these leaders can do with regards to the overall Kashmir problem. Therefore, rhetoric apart, Kashmiri leaders cannot afford to cease the opportunity, whatsoever, but it might retreat to its traditional position; here is no denying the fact, that deep-rooted animosity and distrust have often precluded amicable dialogue between the parties, the deep-seated disagreement has become progressively more hostile because interestingly it has now become linked to selfish motivations at internal level though in its external ramifications it still continues to be the issues of national pride and national identity. Motivations more often make agreements difficult and never allow any forward moment. I would like to make a point here in very simple terms. Every body, familiar with the genesis of the Kashmir problem seem to be in agreement in disregarding the notion that the conflict in Kashmir is conflated with the broader dispute between India and Pakistan. Yes, it is only one side of the coin, but the real, and arguably more destabilizing, "Kashmir conflict" is the dispute between New Delhi and the state of Kashmir. In response to repression, oppression, non-governance, rigged elections, in-sensitivities of the Indian state towards the democratic and fundamental rights of the people of the state and disregard to the constitutional provisions and institutional decay , a popular anti-Indian separatist insurgency took hold in Kashmir during 1989. This is the essence of the modern problem in Kashmir and this is where from the separatists leaders trace their origin. Anyway, the Indian response to the new emerging situation was very harsh, brute and coercive. It is, of course, a well recognized and intellectually, well argued statement that the failure of institutional mechanisms for resolving political problems leads to the adoption of coercive and military strategies, with adverse consequences, In a poly-ethnic state like Jammu and Kashmir , the use of the army against particular ethnic group virtually results in communalization of the armed forces, this doctrine was practised to the fullest in Kashmir. However, political mobilization in Kashmir and Indian response to it lack direction and the mobilization has become political wilderness and the response to it-state terrorism. But interestingly both catalyse on gross human rights violations with Kashmiri leadership showing their presence by agitating and the state by committing. Since the Amarnath Shrine Board Land row in 2008, political analysts believe that the reaction from the people against any state misadventure is spontaneous and the leadership in Kashmir follow suite. Interestingly, both unionists and separatists are driven by the spontaneity of political mobilization which is always the net result of the failure of democratic institutions in tackling the situations. The only difference is unionists yield to the public pressure and the separatists consolidate on it. So it can be argued, the mobilization in Kashmir is from the public itself lacking political direction. Let me offer explanation to this point in another way.The failure of successive regimes in Kashmir to accommodate rising political demands within an institutional context culminated in political violence. The violence was more acute given the poly-ethnic character of the society. The political discontent in Kashmir encountered few institutional channels for expressing political dissent. In the meantime a new political leadership emerged in the state having divergent views and varying political background and ideological orientations. However, there was unanimity as for the opposition to the Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir was concerned and it was this agreement that insurgency was so intensive that at one point of time the authority of the Indian state virtually collapsed in the state. On the other hand the state evolved a strategy from its experience of defeating insurgent movements in the neighbouring state of Punjab and in India's north-eastern states. Irrespective of its theoretical and policy significance, Indian state employed brute form of counter insurgency and earned disrepute first, among the people of the state and then in internationally. The leadership however failed in bargaining and exhausted many opportunities and occasions in chaos. At a certain point the offer form the Indian state to the leadership was political in nature as its authority was totally missing and it was ready for a give and take game. And now the conditions put forth by the Kashmiri leadership for a dialogue are about the issues consequential to the armed insurgency. From release of political detenues to the revocation of draconian laws, from demilitarization to freedom of expression, from respect to human rights to free passage to the dislocated people to the state, the demands are purely in the post militancy context. The failure of the leadership can be gauged from the fact that such demands are coming only after as many as eighty thousand people were consumed by the armed insurgency and counter insurgency. Secondly the demands are being made in a indistinguishable manner without invoking a proper mechanism.Across the board, the growing impression is that separatist leaders were placating for their own political purpose and popularity, rather than displaying the concrete leadership qualities needed to properly handle the issues concerning the people. Moreover, the average Kashmiri believe that one or the other is placating to either India or Pakistan. A charge that has legitimacy at face value making their very credentials dubious.In my individual opinion the most complicated aspect of the Kashmir issue is leadership itself because the response time and again continues to be the most unfortunate for those who claim a leadership role in such an intricate issue. What we have seen in other parts of the globe where righteous struggles were witnessed, the leadership has had the ability to comprehend the entire dynamics and then having competence to work for desired results. In this particular, from the day one entire leadership continues to be entrenched in the belief that let the people pay heavy price for little achievable. Lets be honest in passing a judgement, what interest would India or Pakistan have in allowing the creation of the next failed state because leadership did not have the intellectual capacity, understanding or realization that it takes a lot more than wanting freedom to achieve freedom.

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