By Firdous Syed
Nov 6 2015
We wish Kashmir could welcome prime minister of India, wholeheartedly. A guest, in any case, is a guest. For that matter Kashmir is best known for its profound sense of hospitality.
Today prime minister of India is scheduled to visit Srinagar, doors seems to have been forced shut down. The hearts with clogged feelings already stands firmly closed. With perennial fears lurking, may the day passes peacefully?
Perhaps, the arena still will be jam-packed to receive Indian prime minister. Who can dare to underestimate, if not outright coercion, the influencing capacity of the state to shepherd the gullible, moreover vulnerable sections of the society towards a place. Whatever the level of participation the spectacle may aim to demonstrate, will people be participating out of their free-will? This question becomes more persuasive in the backdrop of long-tested management skills of the state. A section is being rather desperately managed to be part of the official show. The overwhelming popular sentiment finds itself caged, rather rendered fully incapable of demonstrating the real will of Kashmir. Yet how to describe the real will of Kashmir?
Without caring for a so-called maximalist position or for that matter any minimalist option, the real will of Kashmir truly yearns for a sustainable peace. The powers that be, however, seems to be absolutely afraid of peace. Why they are afraid of peace, is the most perplexing question? And can there be peace without making of peace? Unless people consciously arrive at peace, we can never dream of peace. This is just not a rhetorical assumption; it’s derived from decade’s long unpleasant experience of a conflict in and on Kashmir. India’s tremendous firepower provides it an unquestionable capacity to hold Kashmir. India has successfully managed to overcome all military threats to its hold on Kashmir; be it in 1947-48, or 1965 or the continuing one since 1990. Does that bring peace to Kashmir as well as India and Pakistan on the whole? Is it not a despicable reality that Kashmir continues to be caught in a web of highly destabilising conflict?
Could retaining of territorial control alone insure peace? The popular armed rebellion of 1990 was crushed by a brute force, yet a fresh militant uprising is again staring us in our face. Whether a boy is categorized as a terrorist, a militant or a Mujahid, every rebelling local youth joining the ranks is a cause of immense worry. Irrespective of all-pervasive security setup every Kashmiri, boy joining militancy, indeed adds to the deep sense of insecurity. That eventually perpetuates the seemingly everlasting atmosphere of instability. A less than a year ago, unending serpentine queues outside the polling booths perhaps were misconstrued as harbinger of peace. How should we now interpret the immensely agitated huge gatherings during the funeral processions of the slain militants? Even the Pakistan based militants are being celebrated as saviours. Whatever military resources India could deploy, are being and have been deployed to quell the militant threat. Yet the militant threat remains as potent moreover ominous as it ever has been since 1989. What continues to swell the ranks of militancy? If peace prevails, why boys are still joining militancy?
Can frequent economic packages buy us a peace? We must confess the fact that New Delhi has been fairly generous about the mobilisation of economic resources in Kashmir. Still peace eludes Kashmir. Again an economic package is in the offing. Whatever little impact of these generous economic packages, eventually the largesse portrays us as an ungrateful people. Despite huge amount of money being spent in Kashmir, why people of Kashmir still remain at loggerheads with New Delhi, a poverty stricken ordinary Indian is justified to ask. This question in a way answers the real quandary. Development, for that matter lack of development, indeed is an issue here. First and foremost, however, Kashmir longs for a dispute resolution.
We don’t know, whether prime minister of India during his visit to Kashmir could seize the moment and strive to follow the footsteps of AB Vajpayee. Can there be a greater Indian patriot than Vajpayee? Whether Vajpayee, a man deep seeped in the ideology of RSS, is statesman or not, is a futile exercise. Vajpayee could, however, fully realize that without forging peace with Pakistan, peace in the Indian sub-continent will hardly prevail. Immediately after his historic visit to Lahore in search of peace, Kargil happened. Yet Vajpayee had the audacity to pursue peace with Pakistan. The man even tried to have peace with Pakistan after parliament attack and subsequent operation Parakram, by inviting Gen Musharrf to Agra. Whether Narendra Modi likes it or not, in case of peace, or for that matter war, Pakistan remains to be an irrefutable factor in Kashmir. From Kabul to Kashmir, India has invested in an enormous effort to gain leverage over Pakistan in order to manage Kashmir. And let’s add here, India short of conflict resolution has virtually tried every tactic and strategy to manage Kashmir. Horribly the situation in Kashmir remains unmanageable. Perhaps the present Indian minister may like to have his own experience. But then it will be too late. How come India expects to have a different result yet following an already beaten track? Whatever the ideological baggage Narendra Modi carrys along, he will have to come to terms that by resorting to hard measures and management tools, the dispute on Kashmir can never be resolved. Kashmir is longing to have a transformation from a miserable situation of a conflict to that of an everlasting peace. Without desiring peace for India and Pakistan, Kashmir alone can never realize that dream. We, most earnestly invite prime minister of India, and despite the reputation he possess, to peace. We wish to welcome prime minister of India wholeheartedly. Will he enable us to do so, by accepting our invitation for peace?