Dr Adfar Shah
Hardly anybody would have expected such a prolonged political impasse after CM Mufti Mohamamd Sayeed’s death on January 07.More than a month has passed since the sayeed’s death and still no signs of government formation in the state currently under governor’s rule. Though talks between the ideologically opposite parties are on, however the impasse still continues, confusing one and all in the sensitive state.
The Politics of CBMs
It is often said that only true knowledge creates sound belief! However, when it comes to Kashmir’s political waywardness and alliances of the recent past, set aside vision, we find neither knowledge nor belief in transforming the state. For the first time, though, Mehbooba Mufti seems serious about analyzing the approaches and methods of understanding the aspirations of the people of the state which is perhaps why the political conundrum still prevails and government formation keeps getting delayed somewhat indefinitely! While the Bharatiya Janata Party seems ready to tie the knot of alliance once again, completely unconditionally, Mehbooba appears more to adopt a much firmer and more practical approach and is keen to get all the requisite assurances from the Centre before re-entering into such an unusual alliance. She clearly knows that the very agenda of alliance or what they call “common minimum programme” so far has been a failure purely due to non-cooperation between the alliance partners despite PDP’s obvious political hara-kiri due to tie up with BJP. For the first time we are seeing someone who gives CBMs on Kashmir a fundamental importance when critics ask where were such CBMs during Mufti’s reign .The quest remains how Mehbooba’s mood is read by the Centre and their supposed allies, only the time will tell but her opponents are clearly surprised and confused by her newly displayed qualities of leadership and vision and who would otherwise want her to continue such a historical and unusual alliance.
The forgotten Peace Building
Mehbooba’s political introspection is timely for Kashmir keeps drowning more deeply in the sea of chaos everyday with no return of normalcy and seriousness on the all-important Kashmir issue keeps fading away rapidly! This analysis is also important because the K-analysts in general, and outsiders in particular, lack the correct understanding of the burning Kashmir issue today, which is why issues of development, or rather the rhetoric of development (without peace measures) always take precedence against the issues of peace building per se and meaningful talks for Kashmir always take a back seat. In regard to understanding Kashmir, what we keep discussing pertains only to the questions of basic survival and the basic life amenities of common Kashmiri’s, with no focus on peace building and doing all that is needed to build peace.
The problem of ego clashes (between India and Pakistan) and generalization of issues (in Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh) confronting the masses, has distorted every truth to the core. This trap of generality, perhaps the biggest problem in the state, has further complicated the K-issue and problems thereof. Also imitating foreign models mindlessly or wholesale borrowing of tactics that are alien to the local culture or borrowing mere adjustments of other contexts, have actually led to a totally irrelevant theoretical construct as well as the empirical realities of Kashmiri society – be it the idea of peace,secession,volatility,criminality,instability,uncertainity,dissent or perpetual chaos. With regard to Kashmir when it comes to peace strategy, one must be innovative and rooted enough to devise a new method of contextual understanding, though one can understand that there cannot be a unique (exclusive) method necessarily to solve Kashmir once and for all but a different mass-based technique, a scientific compendium of the ideas and scientific output from the younger generation, true research and field work, authentic data, etc, are highly needed to represent and diagnose the actual woes of Kashmir, accurately. More importantly, among the holistic leadership of Kashmir, I only see Dr Farooq Abdullah as being truly practical and realistic to the core, regarding his solution on Kashmir. The State to me is like a person in the methodological context and can, therefore, be studied correctly by comprehending, in its entirety, its socio-historical development that is lacking at the moment. Though everyone in power is aware of the facts, the politics of delay and mutual ego defer indefinitely, execution of the necessary positive measures being put in place!
Kashmir’s Unending Dichotomies and Misunderstandings
There is a dire need to re-study the records of various events that have occurred at different times be they agreements, disagreements, commissions, incidents of HR abuse, killings, disappearances, tortures, etc, which are still not a priority issue and of prime importance ,and have been left merely to NGOs and a few activists .We must understand the type ‘Kashmir’ psychologically along with the very concept of Kashmir, its facts, myths, features, biases and prejudices, etc, to put our analysis in the correct local perspective. Moreover, there has to be an in-depth exploration of the very pertinent social realities and characteristics of good and assumed good in the present context. No doubt the new realities, coupled with the new intricacies, will emerge as we go along, however the scientific study of Kashmir and Kashmiris will lead to new horizons of success and knowledge about the very context. We need to understand the ideas of migration and change and development there. We need to keep abreast with the issues of continuity and change in tradition, social tensions and dissent there. We also need to ponder urgently over the ideas painted in Islamic and other religious context there and understand the new realities of intolerance and newly emerging social but conflicting frameworks of we’s and them’s, etc,. It is imperative that we do not treat the political conflict as merely a historical point or event or accident but understand it thoroughly through profound philosophical, psychological and social principles within the context of a scientific bias, so as to reach some feasible and functional solution. We need some distinguished ideas on Kashmir regarding the basic factor in change and development of the very conflict idea and society in conflict. Our social scientists have to wake up from the slumber of fear and lethargy and take varying positions to understand the complex social reality of various social groups rather than focusing on paid projects only. They need to study the Kashmir situation seriously and understand it by a multi-pronged approach and put forward their recommendations for the resolution of the social conflict, which is increasing. There is still an ample scope for social mapping, achieving objectivity via subjectivity by seeing the problem from the victims perspective, re-analyzing the analysis already done, increasing face to face interaction, etc, Also security apparatus has to ensure that K-issue discussions and debates must not be a problem to them or to anybody else anywhere be it the institutions of education or other places. We have to bear in mind that there is no set formula to solve so we should keep experimenting be that our knowing the impact of conflict more, enhancing Kashmir’s educational, social and cultural capital, etc,. There has to be an effective communication and cultural communication to get people involved and foster the sense of indigenous ethos. Further all the efforts of peace building should aim at keeping the people’s identity intact and making them the part of every intervention. Also a cultural style has to prevail and the frequent use of cultural activities, fests, etc, will serve as a soft way of the dissemination of peace idea and more than that it will connect people.
The common masses cannot afford to be just a tool in the hands of the power elite, who always act as their guide but need to make their own stand, craft their own opinions and carve the functional public space for themselves to speak for themselves. Kashmir and its total social collective needs a common man’s approach, which perhaps Mehbooba is considering at the moment. If CBMs on Kashmir are not given priority and interests of the people of the state are not valued, then what remains the essence of forming the alliance and the government? Amid the flood of fallacious approaches and mishandlings so far, the common man has lost his/her space which needs to be restored without further delay and efforts must be continued to engage Kashmir’s gigantic youth community for vital peace initiatives. For involving youth communities for social conflict resolution, we need to tap their potential by fruitfully engaging them because we know that youth who still work much harder to eke out their living hardly get satisfactory remuneration and Kashmir is still a place where earning 5,000 bucks a month is a big deal. Policy makers have to realize this social injustice and turn Kashmir into a place with a substantial economic, cultural and educational potential that we have continuously failed to realize. Alliances and governments will continue in future also however who will take pains to transform the state in real sense, is a question with a curious question mark at its end. Perhaps Mehbooba Mufti is serious this time and adamant to translate her father’s vision on the ground. Will her delaying tactics reward her or whether there may be mid-term polls or will it cost her dearer in terms of declining mass support, due to such alliance, only the time will tell! Will BJP’s Ram Madhav and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti seal the deal to end the impasse, remains to be seen.
(Dr Adfar Shah is a Delhi based Sociologist and Columnist at various reputed media groups. Reach at firstname.lastname@example.org).