The article is more imbued with the excitement engendered by the recent election results in Jammu and Kashmir than by any new insight and understanding of its recent political climate and the seven-decade old Kashmir Problem.
The election results do not portend any change in the Kashmiri Muslims’ minds about the governance of the Valley and the Kashmir Problem. The election created excitement due to BJP’s vigorous campaign to get a tangible grip on the political power of the Valley. Jammu, and more so Ladakh do not matter, as former’s pro-India stance and latter’s political insignificance, have remained unchanged.
People in the Valley voted in record numbers because they wanted to stop BJP’s ascendancy to power there and not because they were sanguine about the functioning of Indian democracy. It would be sheer recklessness on PDP’s part if it were to get allied with BJP to assume power. It will turn the Valley further into political alienation and freeze than before. It is because Modi’s image after the Gujrat massacre has yet not been fully repaired and his half-hearted and unimaginative efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the flood victims has hurt the Valley Kashmiris. It would be politically prudent for PDP to ally with NC or Congress, with the help of independents.
Elections have changed nothing in the Valley. Its people are still feeling miserable in living with India, are openly soft-hearted toward Pakistan, and dreaming of independence. They consider these parts of their political mental architecture to be indispensable to their survival. Reasoning with them that over sixty-six years this thinking has not brought them closer to what they want a whit is of no avail. At the deepest level all mass political uprisings are emotional, blocking facts and rational thinking.
Mr. Kak believes that Kashmir is the microcosm of India as an idea. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Kashmir is the worst example of a state in a country which by its self-created politics from 1947 has inflicted epic injuries on itself, by cutting itself from its roots, cutting asunder its historical ties with KPs, and by putting itself with a begging bowl for all its survival needs. No other state in India is as conflicted as Kashmir is in all the significant spheres of its existence.
He also believes that Sufism is alive in Kashmir. Where was it in 1989? It now hangs as a speck of dust on the horizon. It was the change of heart and mind of Kashmiris in 1989 that the present impregnable climate of intolerance and distrust in Kashmir was born.
Solving AFSA problem is important as it rankles Kashmiris very much. Interdependence and cultivated interactions between different Kashmiri communities is a step in right direction. But return of KPs is not required to have peace in Kashmir, as most of them do not want to do so because of their bitter experiences and also because they feel settled now in their new lives.
Dissolution of Article 370 is required if we want to see Kashmir as an integral part of India. By treating Kashmiris specially makes them irresponsible and addictively selfish. If we want to see Kashmiris progress and make Kashmir peaceful it is the only way. Trying to solve Kashmir Problem by nuts and bolt engineering of its hotspots is not only counterproductive, wasteful, but is absolutely dishonest. If India has courage of its conviction that Kashmir belongs to it this this painful step is necessary. Otherwise, Kashmir should be given independence, even though that would mean the ultimate destruction of Kashmir as we know it. This Kashmiris do not understand.
The only thing that can save Kashmiris is to become realistic. Since it has no economy and security of its own it cannot harbor dreams of independence. The first thing they have to do is strengthen their character. Perhaps more than one third of all the financial and material help that J&K and Indian governments and NGO’s rendered to Kashmir for its flood victims and infrastructure destruction was pocketed by its evil characters. Without some reasonable level of character among its people Kashmir will always remain in a parasitic dependence on others. Its leaders have to be sincere. If the leadership in Kashmir would have been that there would not have been a Kashmir Problem. They have lead with diverse loyalties, most significant of them being the loyalty to their self-interest. In fact, some of them do not want the problem to be solved because it would cut the tree that feeds them.
GOI on its part has been weak and unimaginative, supporting the corrupt people at J&K helm. It is well known that the youth in a turmoil-laden place have to be provided with jobs, as their restless energy can turn to its destruction. What has GOI done in this direction in the last sixty-six years?
Elections in Jammu and Kashmir have been decided but Kashmir Problem remains brutishly alive.
Suffern, New York, December 26, 2014