By Sunny Makroo
Successive governments in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir have traditionally invested their back-door diplomatic maneuvering behind the troublemakers and rabble-rousers of the Kashmir valley. The pacifists in India believe that the solution or part solution for Kashmir lies in engineering a coup around those who create the maximum noise that discomforts Delhi such as separatists, rebel groups and hardliners.
The problem with this approach of extending monetary and political dollops to separatists is in the very construct of the perceived ‘core’ solution. The separatists and hardliners know that they need to keep the heat on consistently as it is the only oxygen for their survival and the continued simmering of Kashmir gets them the necessary attention from all-those-that-matter on Kashmir, in Delhi and elsewhere.
The Kashmir desk in Delhi continues to oblige the various factions of Hurriyat Conference to keep the heat in control; however with this crying-baby-gets-milk approach — they have often ignored many other stakeholders in this equation who have far more practical, durable and amicable approach.
There are lot of people in Kashmir, in Pakistan and in India whose kitchen runs on ensuring that Kashmir continues to be on a boil.
Pakistan’s military brass needs Kashmir to highlight the failure of its own civilian government in handling foreign policy and lacking spine to deal with emerging India; whereas Pakistan’s political class needs to ensure that it sends out a message to Rawalpindi and rest of Pakistan that it is more nationalistic than its military.
Pakistan also knows that it cannot internationalize Kashmir as world’s major powers such as US, UK and China have repeatedly asserted that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and by internationalising Kashmir — Pakistan risks getting attention on human right violations in Baluchistan. Therefore Pakistan’s narrative on Kashmir is more inward looking than it seems.
By re-latching to Kashmir; Pakistan is also attempting to shift the axis of India-Pak dialogue to Kashmir; which Modi led government has successfully hinged to terrorism. The NDA government should ensure that it doesn’t let Pakistan shift the narrative to Kashmir from terrorism — a goal post shift that Pakistan is desperate for.
Back home in India, the intellectual curiosity of journalists in Delhi and elsewhere in India is limited to a ready-to-eat narrative which projects Indian Military as aggressor and Kashmiris as underdogs fighting for their human rights — whereas the truth is that the Indian military is fighting a very complex battle in Kashmir. A battle where barrel is directed at its own citizens, a battle where enemy is not identifiable. A battle where perception and reality both are fogged and interlaced with layers of inconvenient truths and convenient lies.
The armchair activists in India doesn’t do justice to Kashmiris either as they project a voice which is often not the majority voice of Kashmiris. They alienate Kashmir more in the heart and mind space of Indians by projecting the voice of separatists as mainstream; whereas separatists in Kashmir enjoy at best a seasonal and limited support which is evident election after election despite their boycott calls where people come out and vote in resounding numbers.
The reimagined solution
The killing of Burhan Wani is not about The-Burhan-Wani. He is just an opportunity for people with vested interests to address their core constituencies. He is just a medium and a storyboard. Yesterday it was Ashfaq Majeed Wani, today it is Burhan Wani and tomorrow it would be someone else.
While it is understandable that people in Pakistan and separatists in Kashmir have compulsions in keeping the coffin of Burhan Wani open, what is baffling is that Indian media has underplayed another important event. Perhaps for the first time a voice has emerged publically from the Valley which is denouncing the pro-Pakistan, pro-violence position and is inspiring a fresh narrative which is logical, practical and bold.
It is not an ordinary event that a son of a Kashmiri separatist leader, Junaid Qureshi, has come out in open and taken a bold stance of denouncing the methods of separatists at a time when the Valley is highly polarised and peace seems to be an unpopular choice. Junaid is a writer, international human rights activist and a senior leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party.
The solution for Kashmir will emerge from Kashmir and perhaps the solution lies in nurturing thoughts that young Junaids’ have. Policy makers in Delhi need to focus on Junaids of Kashmir than the Burhans, else Kashmir will cover significant distance but zero displacement much like last two decades.