Reflections On Kashmir Problem
After a magnificent victory of big dimensions one does not, generally, stop to think the underlying causes behind it; but in the aftermath of a mammoth failure one is compelled to ponder its avoidability.
The irenic and languorous people of Kashmir lie today physically impoverished, mentally rattled, economically devastated, and politically dead. The physical grandeur of Kashmir lies in shambles. Heavy layers of gloom surround the moribund existence of its people, who are spiritually exhausted, staring blankly at the future.
The Kashmiri children will bear the greatest damage of all the people in the conflagration. Their psyches will grow aberrated, robbing them of full and healthy lives. The culture of the place has suffered a violent wound, which will take decades to heal, leaving forever an excruciating stigma.
What caused this calm and care-free people living in majestically beautiful and idyllic surroundings, riding a long turbulence-free history, to explode so violently?
When the greatest Kashmiri leader Sheikh Mohamad Abdullah was asked why he decided to throw his political lot with Hindu India rather than with Muslim Pakistan, he answered that he did so only because he thought his people would prosper more. He was right on the mark. In the period between 1947, the year modern Kashmir was created, and 1989, the year when the ongoing civil war became a force to reckon with, Kasmiris experienced a huge economic upliftment, unprecedented in their history. They were the unquestioned masters of their land politically, culturally, and in the practice of their religion.
What laid the seeds of their insanity was their psychologically insecure identity. They never felt they were part of India, in spite of living grandly on its resources. This irrationality of apartness from India, maturing into alienation, became the bedrock of the political divide.
Why would anyone join an economically crippled and politically benighted Pakistan, which since its inception fifty years ago has played a havoc with its existence? It is a nation without a reliable srtucture of government; unrelentingly under the evil control of its military ; without the tangible will for political change in its much frustrated, tired, and resigned people. It is one of the most exploited, confused, and backward nations in the world. It draws sustenance from the efforts it expends on destabilizing its neighbor. It is a nation without a program and without an awareness of the severity of its problems.
When Pakistan is not able to take care of itself, how can it take care of the added burden of Kashmir, which has no significant economic resources. But acquiring Kashmir is not a tangible plan for Pakistan, but a blinder set up by its politicians to divert its people’s attention to their colossal problems, a tranquilizer provided to make them forget its bleak record and unpromising future. Pakistani leaders know that Kashmir can not be wrested from India, but they want their people to have the illusion to the contrary. There have been few nations in the history of the world in which politicians squandered so much national wealth and energy, and fooled its people so long ,for so little.
A Kashmiri would remain a much stigmatized second-class citizen in the expanded nation of Pakistan and Kashmir. From the very outset the new province of Kashmir would be a seething cauldron of political intrigue and unrest. Its former economic security will pulverize into paralysis and panic. Kashmiris will beat their chests for their catastrophic blindness.
This drama of the insane hunter and the blinded prey is tragic, traumatic, and devastating.
An independent nation of Kashmir is a geopolitical impossibility at this time.
Behind the glossy but tragic drama of the hunter and the hunted lies the egregious devastation of the original inhabitants of Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pandits. Some three thousand Pandits were expended casually, just to give color and excitement to the cause of the Islamization of Kashmir. Another three hundred thousand were kicked out of their homes by the vicious fear and the scorching threats unleashed by the militants against them. Rendered refugees in their own land, they are leading miserable and wasted lives in camps. Their children are growing without proper nutrition, education, and future.
These unmourned victims of the Kashmir crisis have even been foresaken by their own government. Never has a government knowingly neglected the victims of a civil war raging in its country to appease the criminal group responsible for it as much as in the Kashmir war. In fact, Govt. Of India’s strategy is to maintain the brotherly relationship with the militant- sympathizers, in the hope that one day they will come around, as it happened in the Nagaland crisis. The government has let the Kashmiri Pandits wither away, to keep the Kashmiri Muslims less critical of them.
What has the rest of the world done for the Pandits? There have been no international relief measures taken for them. In fact, most of the world does not know much about their plight. A few thousand deaths and a few hundred thousand refugees do not excite the mankind very much these days. The devastation has to be much larger to occupy the world news headlines.( Bosnia is supposed to have completely eclipsed Kashmir).
Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir has not elicited much criticism in the world. People have turned their heads away in the West from the vicious Pakistani invasion, because it has happened in the East, and also because Pakistan had been a friend of the West for a long time. Morality at the international level is a matter of region, race, and convenience.
Throughout the history there have been some wars and upheavals based on the insanity of the participants rather than on the territorial and economic reasons. The war in Kashmir is a splendid example of this genre. The mankind’s collective will is still so diffused , light in ambition , and unsure of its morality, that it can not be counted on saving a part of it at this time.