Towards Peace in Kashmir

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The Union Government’s initiative to reach out to the people in the Valley in Jammu and Kashmir yet again must be welcomed by all those who believe in negotiations being central to peaceful resolution of the contentious issue. It is hoped that the newly-appointed interlocutor Mr. Dineshwar Sharma will proceed with his new job by taking all stakeholders into confidence. In a heavily interdependent world, wars cannot be the solution to disputes between nations, let alone among two neighbours armed with nuclear weapons. Nor should the people in the state be allowed to remain victims of procrastination over a solution.
It is for the last three decades that the Valley has been under the sway of militancy with covert cross-border support. An entire new generation of Kashmiri youth has grown up under the shadow of guns, protests, lockdowns and boycotts. The progress of the state has been held to ransom by those who ignore the multiple factors that determine peace in a given situation. Sold to absolutism, they either do not see or refuse to see the realities that beset the issue. The strategic location of the landlocked state between four nuclear nations cannot afford yet another sovereign entity in the region.
The creation of Pakistan has been an historical accident. Its creator Mohammad Ali Jinnah neither had the perception of the Indian subcontinent being a single civilizational entity nor was he endowed with a vision for the future of the Muslims following departure of the British. His desire of carving a Muslim state from an entity that had shared history, geography and uniform social traits and ethos was flawed in that the world
was set on the trajectory of nation-states, not religion-based states. The results are before us: Muslims of the subcontinent lie dismembered in three independent states; two of the major nations who do not see eye to eye have been allocating huge resources to defence spending; a third nation carved out of Pakistan is a demographic and ecological disaster; zealots of major religious communities fan fears, phobias and fanaticism
and negate democracy; and, elections tend to exacerbate the wounds of the past and befog the future.
More of these must not be allowed to happen again. It is in this context that the Kashmiris must strive to resolve the issues
rather than being misled by visions of an imaginary paradise on earth. Things do not happen in isolation of factors that shape events and territories in one’s surroundings. It is time even for Pakistan to change. Much blood has flowed down Jhelum due to its support of militants. Its younger generation has been deprived of better educational, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Furthermore, militancy has taken deep roots within Pakistan, threatening its own peace, progress and prosperity, what with suicide bombers targeting mosques, military complexes and even schools.
Union Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh has shown immense perspicacity every time he has spoken about resolution of Kashmir issue. Some of the latest measures to deal with the street protestors point to his understanding of the situation and humane dealing of affairs. It will be imperative for the Union Government to take a close look at policy propositions by former Prime Minister Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had initiated opening routes for trade and visitors exchanges between two sides of the Kashmir Valley. It was borne out of the understanding that the LoC had brutally cut up families, businesses and cultural exchanges. A simple look at the historical ties, cultural relations, geography, flow of rivers and business exchanges would suggest that people in the Valley have been deprived of much of these opportunities. A shuttered existence exacerbates their sense of deprivation.
Only a meaningful dialogue and threadbare discussion among all stakeholders can achieve some progress. The subcontinent has much to lose or gain depending upon how the Kashmir issue is dealt by the two neighbours. Mired in poverty, illiteracy, diseases, hunger, ethnic violence and social strife, India and Pakistan should not allow the Kashmir issue to be the reason for war or even cold war.