‘There is a place under the sun for every citizen of this world.’ If only this statement were true, then the world would have been a better place – free from strife and war. However, the world, as it has always existed, remains not how philosophers and thinkers have idealized it to be. It is an arena of unequal opportunities, where for centuries the elites have feared and protected themselves against the revolts of the poor. Understandably then, world history itself is punctuated with blood-splattered slave, serf and social uprisings.
While on one hand, those who could – the elites – have thrived and progressed from “first-wave” agrarian to “second-wave” industrial and subsequently to the “third-wave” knowledge societies, generating wealth and monopolizing power, on the other hand there is a mammoth population of social, political and economic underdogs who still live and lie as in centuries past. It is this ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor, powerful and the helpless, developed and the under-developed, haves and have-nots that possibly explains the seemingly inexplicable resurgence of religion, ethnicity, language, nationality and a multitude of other such factors that provide the global cleavages and fault-lines, tensions along which give birth to conflicts.
Decades back, futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler had predicted – “these multiplying, and fast-widening cleavages represent large-scale threats to peace in the decades ahead.” Today, we are already into an era when world remains torn by the bloody uprisings based on religious, ethnic, political, and economic differences. However, if we look beneath these uprisings, we will see each of these movements have their own economic, political and social causes and agendas tearing the existing nations apart through what has come to be known as civil wars. While as international wars have always attracted enormous global attention, however, in the post-Cold War era, the incidence of civil wars has increased manifold and it is these internationalized internal (intra-state) wars, which remain a major focus of international attention and concern. According to the World Bank Policy Research Report (2003), “In 2001 all but one of the world’s wars were civil wars.”
Since every civil war is caused and propelled by a plethora of political, economic, social, and other factors, it will therefore be a mistake to look at these wars through a vantage point of any single factor alone. In fact every civil war is an amalgamation of many or all of these varied factors and causes. Similarly, each conflict is different and has its own “distinctive, idiosyncratic triggers,” which makes any generalized study prone to faulty understanding and interpretation of the phenomena characterizing these wars. But there are, at the same time, certain other factors that run common in most of the civil conflicts dotting the political landscape of the world. It is these common elements that systematically increase or decrease the incidence as well as the severity of most civil wars.
The loud political rhetoric originating from various parties and sources regarding the ongoing conflict in Kashmir notwithstanding, it goes without saying that so far not much has been done to understand the apparent as well as latent dynamics of this conflict in proper perspective. Instead everything is so overly politicized that whosoever says or does anything here is actually eyeing some political mileage out of it. Even the people with no educational or political capital to understand the structural, economic, social, cultural, geopolitical and other implications of this conflict, miss no opportunity to talk about Kashmir. A cursory look at the stream of speeches and statements pouring in from the political mouths here drives home the fact that every Tom, Dick and Harry is out in open to lecture on, and about Kashmir. And as if the bands of locally-bred politicians were not enough, Delhi-based so-called Kashmir experts, including those in media, who are actually the part of the larger political enterprise (read conflict enterprise) called Kashmir, too are there to poke in their noses, claiming their share of the plum. No wonder ordinary Kashmiris, like their confused aspirations, remain ever-inundated in this verbal garbage that is bombarded at them without any respite.