History is replete with chronicles of conflicts since the dawn of the human civilization. Although, the scale and intensity of these conflicts can be variable, yet going through the narratives and counter-narratives of the past, these conflicts ultimately paved way for the inquisitive inquiries and resolutions from the respective parties to the conflict in order to bridge the loopholes for the settlement of the issues at stake, subsequently leaving a sordid tale of agonies and face-offs behind for the permanent settlement of the problems and yearnings for the vision of a stable and a peaceful order.
Today, when we are living in the post-modern globalized era, the vagaries of the world cannot be shooed away. Kashmir, the vale of beautiful and serene valleys, enclosed by the mighty Himalayas and lofty mountains, with the heart-enthralling scenes of beautiful meadows and low-lying areas is a case in point with the tinter-hooks of multidimensional problems,yet assumed as an intractable problem of the sub-continent, posing challenges of a continuous struggle day in and day out. Although, it is known as the Switzerland of Asia for its beauty, yet, there is a different side of the story turning its glamour upside down. Kashmir is the core issue of the subcontinent that continues to bedevil relations between India and Pakistan. It is also one of the oldest conflicts in the UN history. Despite a series of UN resolutions, the two countries have been unable to resolve the dispute.
The people of the state have been ruled by a different number of rulers over the period of time. The first Muslim ruler of Kashmir was Shah Mir who laid the foundation of the Shah Mir dynasty. Kashmir was also part of the great Mughal empire from 1586 to 1751. Later on, until 1820, it was under the reigns of Afghan-Durrani empire. Ranjit Singh annexed Kashmir at that point of time.
The treaty of Amritsar signed on March 15, 1846 was a grim chapter in the history of Kashmir under the provisions of which Raja Gulab Singh after the first Anglo-Sikh War purchased the vale from the British and became its ruler.The rule of his descendants continued under the paramountcy of the British till the partition of India in 1947, when the erstwhile princely state was claimed by the respective descendants of the partition. That dispute continues till today without a glimmer of hope between India and Pakistan, leaving the aspirations of the masses to fly in air with each passing day.
The instrument of accession signed by the Maharaja with the Union of India was a turning point in the annals of history where the erstwhile state was acceded with India after the guerrilla attack. The UN was invited at that time to mediate on the issue. In 1948, a ceasefire was agreed upon under the auspices of the UN. Unfortunately, the referendum was never conducted which heightened the state of hostility between India and Pakistan. The two nuclear states of India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir including the Kargil War.
In 1987, insurgency erupted in the state of J&K. The Dixon plan was a failed attempt from the UN to meditate a solution for Kashmir. According to A.G.Noorani, the people of Kashmir are very much party to the dispute.
In all these preceding years, Kashmir has been on a tumultuous journey of agonies and pain. The Amarnath Land controversy over the transfer of land was an unfortunate episode in 2008 which consumed 40 people leaving behind a tale of pain and suffering for the respective families. 2009 and 2010 also carried on the legacy of protests and killings. The year of 2016 was a historic and a turning point in the state which brought about a paradigm shift in the dynamics of the political thinking of the masses and affected a change of thinking,creating much more alienation of the people from mainstream India. This not only affected the life of the people,but also added a chapter of tragedy to the flashpoint of Kashmir.
Over the years of political turmoil and establishment of new regimes after the conduction of the elections,the people have attained a political maturity. The double dose of autonomy and self rule proposed by NC and PDP have found very little take from the mainland of India. Although,the political establishment at New Delhi appointed three interlocutors in the past, but, what transpired after the provision of their reports is still shrouded in a political mystery.
Prospective View Of The Conflict And Way Out
Since its inception, both India and Pakistan have tried to solve the issue of Kashmir. A number of bilateral negotiations have been initiated at different levels to settle the protracted issue. Kashmir is a disputed territory dogged with near perpetual instability, posing a grave risk to the peace and stability of South Asia in particular and the whole continent in general.
Time is testimony to the fact that an environment of peace and reconciliation has been a sine quo non for the redressal and resolution of the disputes, be it local or universal. The parties to the conflict, that is India and Pakistan, cannot remain mute spectators to this imbroglio. A sort of acknowledgement of the problem from a humanitarian perspective is need of the hour. Blame games, face-offs and broken promises are in no way remedies to the problem. What is actually a solution is to sit across the table to have a meaningful and a multi-pronged strategy of the dialogue to contain the problem and resolve it for once and all. The leadership of the separatist chamber has also to be invited, being a major party to the dispute. Also, the appointment of the interlocutor is a good step. But, the reports should be heed to and not be put into the backburner.For how long will the valley bleed? Time is ripe to fructify the peace in the state. The loss of the youth is the loss of the humanity, for it alienates and creates a concurrent of nationalism. The alienation of the people has to be done away with.
The Kashmir conflict assumes dynamic forms with each passing day. The recent recruitment of meritorious and dynamic qualified youth into militancy has set alarm bells not only in the local circles, but also at the national level triggering widespread debates, counter-debates and narratives, trying to uncover the root genesis of the problem at large. The Kashmir issue if analyzed in its totality and put to the table of dissection and vivi-section, is the longest South Asian issue that refuses to calm down in the contemporary times and calls for a comprehensive analysis and a pragmatic approach for its resolution permanently once for all, sans lackadaisical heed and a no-point direction from the political and administrative quarters of both India and Pakistan.
Although, the side of Pakistan and the leadership of Hurriyat Conference have, time and again, sought the world’s attention to play their part in the resolution of the Kashmir conflict, but, the leadership of India always reiterates their view of no third party intervention.
Over the years, Kashmir has become a symbol of agony, pain, suffering, tragedies and what not. The instability of the region ascribed to the political manipulations has added fuel to the fire over the course of these years. Today, when the world is enmeshed in its own state of conflict, the conflict of Kashmir cannot be put on backburner and covered over by political maneuvers. The vocal politics has to metamorphize into a politics of compassion on paper to give a touch of care for the sufferings of yore,to pledge an end to the vicious cycles of killings and to recognize this monster and have a bargain for peace with a vision for the prospective future of Kashmir, including its sister concerns of Jammu and Ladakh region. After all, peace comes from within.
*Abid Ahmad Shah works in theGovt. Education Dept. J&K, views are personal.