Thursday, Jul 11, 2002
Front Page |
Southern States |
Other States |
Advts: Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |
By Asma-Khan Lone
Kashmir is back on the world consciousness and is the focus of major world powers. This is a welcome albeit late development; nonetheless, it encompasses great scope for ending the protracted impasse in Kashmir. The development can hold a far-reaching opening and commands a diligent and innovative response, especially from the Kashmiri leadership. It is a crucial and defining juncture for a host of reasons. After being placed in cold storage for over half-a-century, the issue is back on the international radar, attracting world attention. Motivated by self-interest, the major powers are taking keen interest in the region; it should, however, be accounted that these powers have a history of short memories and limited attention spans, hence necessitating a swift and adept response. Both India and Pakistan are under tremendous international pressure to find a permanent solution to the issue that in turn provides the Kashmiris ample space to manoeuvre and bargain hard. It should be kept in mind that the only agreements amicably reached between the antagonist neighbours the Rann of Katch Agreement and the 1960 Indus Water Treaty were "facilitated" by third parties.
In the emerging scenario, Kashmiris will have to walk a political tightrope and evaluate their options realistically. The milieu of changed dynamics post-9/11 demands a categorical shift in outlook and the adoption of a proactive approach, packaging themselves as pragmatic and sensitive actors. They need to be perceived as responsible interlocutors. Being the weakest party to the issue, the Kashmiris will need to display profound imagination while playing their cards, putting forward a strong case and deriving maximum benefits. Entering any dispensation should be contingent on tangible guarantees and the provision of adequate political room for arguing their stance. They will have to be mindful of the exigencies of the situation and be armed with a well-thought out gameplan.
However, the immediate dilemma confronting the Kashmiris is the lack of credible leaders to represent them on the table. The movement in Kashmir is a classic case study of a freedom struggle gone dreadfully awry. Infested by rampant corruption, self-interest and vested goals, it has transposed into the bedrock of contradiction. Does the Kashmiri vest his trust in leaders, who after decades of anti-state demagoguery, continue to receive monetary profits from the same or those, driven by personal insecurity, acquiesce to the assassination of fellow Kashmiris? Does he trust the preachers of peace whose associates across the border liaise with radical pro-militancy organisations to receive the accruing perks? Or does the Kashmiri trust the warriors of Allah who issue bloody diktats, safely ensconced across the border, their kin and kith well-looked after and pursuing higher seats of learning and luxuriating on snazzy vehicles and `Geneva' chocolates? A crisis of credibility looms large over the Kashmiri political landscape. Attached strings leading to both the power centres across the border further labyrinthine the situation, turning it into a proxy simulation field where genuine Kashmiri voices are systematically drowned. Some transparent system should be in place to establish the representative character of these leaders before they represent the Kashmiris at any forum.
For any initiative to take off, the bigger parties to the issue need to carry through their votes. Assurances of fair and free elections are not an option. They may be a means to an end but not an end in itself and that also if linked to a broader process of dialogue. The people have fought from within the system only to be disillusioned; this time they want to move beyond. The immediate step, however, remains the dismantling of the foreign presence. This first step hinges on definite quid pro quos, only then will the process move on. While this first step is under way, measures to restore the confidence of the masses that has been dealt a severe blow by acute bad governance and institutionalised corruption need to be taken. The anarchic state of affairs in the State is directly attributed to Delhi as it is perceived to be the handiwork of a Chief Minister superimposed by the Centre.
India being the biggest party, it is required of it to show flexibility and provide latitude. A sincere and balanced contribution can go a long way. First and foremost, it needs to provide a level-playing field. A distinction should also be drawn between extremists and moderates, instilling grey in its otherwise black and white viewfinder. As a riposte to the fundamentalist forces, India has to show moderation while responding to Pakistan.
This way it would strengthen Pakistan's position both while accounting for the domestic pressure and when calculating about the decision-making apparatus, making it easier to clamp down on the extremists which after all is the end objective of India.
It is also incumbent upon India to check any sabotage on whether the rhetoric of autonomy (as during the June 2000 ceasefire) or otherwise. Only by displaying magnanimity will the process be able to move forward.
The militant movement in Kashmir has become an over-ripe fruit. More so because of the form it took, deviating from the actual goal and vision.
Yes it was instrumental in internationalising the issue and forcing India to respond but its utility has been over-stretched. Any issue ultimately has to be dealt within the political realm. The military aspect is but an offshoot, in this case pushed to the edge; it should not be allowed to undermine or overpower the political process.
The need for a rethink of strategy is all the more imperative because of the changed equations and own failures evident in `azadi', which is as far off as when the movement started.
In this kaleidoscope, the world powers fit in as honest brokers. Their interests in the region are secured by stability in the vicinity.
The epicentre of an unnerving nuclear exchange located at strategic crossroads, potential economic activity and the over one billion humanity, the fallout and its spillover run too high to be underestimated.
Obduracy and pressures persist on all levels; the role of the world community comes into play to facilitate a meeting ground and overlook, exerting where necessary, the transition towards a final settlement.
Mistakes of the past world powers in the region should be heeded to and an objective effort towards ending this deadly imbroglio made. A stitch in time saves lives.
(The writer is the daughter-in-law of the late Abdul Gani Lone.)
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of