With Kashmir gradually coming out of months of uprising, India and Pakistan should start the dialogue process afresh to build a consensus for resolving Kashmir



                    It’s been a tough year for Kashmiris, once a princely state, which remained independent for a brief period during the partition days. The Valley of Kashmir erupted in massive protests in the summer of 2016 and in the ensuing action by security forces over 90 civilians were left dead and thousands injured. The role of both mainstream politicians and separatists came under sharp criticism for failing to meet peoples’ desires. As the uprising, which begun in July this year, prolonged, Government of India trained its guns on Pakistan for “sponsoring the unrest in the Valley, post the killing of rebel commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani and at the same time adopted the tough policy to crush the uprising. The hyper nationalistic media in New Delhi then engaged in the propaganda about the proactive role of Islamabad in Kashmir to defame the movement that was purely intrinsic and was in fact the culmination of series of event that had taken place in Jammu and Kashmir after Bhartiya Janta Party won the 2014 Assembly elections to form government with Kashmir-based Peoples Democratic Party.

              Apart from the human tragedy that the year witnessed for almost five months as security forces flexed their muscles to crush peoples’ movement, 2016 was extremely tough for the local media particularly print media. Not only did the state government launched a clampdown on the media houses from time to time to force them to stop publications, inviting strong criticism from world over, the government even ordered closure of a local newspaper, “Kashmir Reader”. Very f ew d etails about the closure of the newspaper have been given by the state government. Mehbooba Mufti, People’s Democratic Party President, who rose to become the first female head of the State, faced the first tests of her political career when the situation started to deteriorate after Burhan’s killing. She rose to the level two decades after starting her political career in the shadow of her late father and former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Among party leader and cadre she had left a mark of a strong leader who had travelled to nook and corners of the Valley to reach out to people to make a strong base for her party and for herself. Today the important challenge before her is to get the Valley back on the track after the deadly unrest this summer and persuade the government of India to start a dialogue on both internal and external fronts for resolving Kashmir issue.

It is true that the youth of Jammu and Kashmir has been the worst victim of the decades old conflict. The political parties have not only been responsible for their plight but the anti youth policies of the successive regimes have been the hallmark of their governance.

              On the governance front she needs to address the crucial issues of unemployment. Since partition of British India in 1947 and creation of modern States of India and Pakistan, the two neighboring countries have been involved in three full-fledged wars and one mini war of Kargil apart from border skirmishes and military standoffs which hog the headlines every now and then. The Kashmir issue has been the main cause, whether direct or indirect, of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The Kashmir issue has so many off-shots to it that there is a danger of losing track if one tries to understand each of them before initiating any action. Because the leadership from both the countries has always harped on mere rhetoric and never, in practice, engaged to contribute in whatever form they could for peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues including Kashmir they have never earned the respect of common people. Jammu and Kashmir is not an economic problem. It is a political problem which needs political solution.

              The central government can’t hide behind the economic package and turns away from the political situation and reality of this conflict torn State. Kashmir issue needs to be resolved once for all keeping in view the aspirations of people. As months-long protests in the Valley are nearing to end the need of the hour is that the Government should start the process to address the critical issues including the reconciliation process and revocation of controversial laws. It is evident that the central government has never made a beginning to pull the state out of the chaos. The government should revive the process of political reconciliation, economic rejuvenation and social emancipation as there is an urgent need for taking initiatives on both political and developmental front in the state. To see a better future for Kashmir it is important that world community come together and persuade both India and Pakistan for initiating the process for resolving the long pending political problem of Kashmir. There are so many issues that need to be acted upon immediately.

             There is too much focus on past, at the cost of viable strategy for the future. The long pending and testing formulae tested time and again by both India and Pakistan seems not to be working at present. The need, for both the governments of India and Pakistan, is to start the process afresh with an open mind by taking certain confidence building measures including involvement of youth in building a modern and peaceful Jammu and Kashmir. The State can come out of its problems of uncertainty and under development only though the solution of Kashmir issue and if younger population is engaged creatively and their talent and energy are given a positive direction. It is true that the youth of Jammu and Kashmir has been the worst victim of the decades old conflict. The political parties have not only been responsible for their plight but the anti youth policies of the successive regimes have been the hallmark of their governance. As of now there are no differences between the two partners PDP and BJP and it is the right time to initiate a political process on Kashmir. The dissidents in PDP have been constantly questioning the rationale behind the alliance that their party has with the BJP. The voices that had been muted following communal polarization between Jammu and Kashmir on the issue of beef ban and other controversial issues have been again voicing their reservations openly. Tariq Hameed Karra who resigned from the PDP as well as from the position of Member of Parliament from Srinagar parliamentary constituency has been vehemently criticizing the PDP’s alliance with the BJP. Kashmir is the flash points in the entire sub continent. It is better to get the acts together to work for the solution of Kashmir unless it becomes too late.

(Author can be reached at umerwani99@gmail.com)