With New Delhi constantly and squarely insisting that the trouble in Kashmir is just “cross-border manipulation by Pakistan”, and refusing to look at it also as a manifestation of people’s anger and alienation, the conflict here is clearly stalemated. What is really disconcerting is that even as the ongoing impasse is hurting all the concerned parties consistently, it is not moving them towards measures that would break this stalemate. In fact the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ between ruling PDP and BJP, which formed the basis of their alliance had actually made very attractive and boastful claim at breaking this jinx by facilitating dialogue and reconciliation between Srinagar and New Delhi and also between India and Pakistan. However, even after nearly two-and-half years of this alliance, there has been no headway. Instead the situation has only gone from bad to worse, and the slide towards far bigger hostilities and greater evil continues with each passing day.
Politics, besides so many things it is, is also about the people’s needs, their urges and their aspirations. It cannot operate in isolation of the people’s life situations. So any politician talking just rhetoric, devoid of real and identifiable vocabulary, does so at his/her peril, for he/she is then overlooking the basic nuance of politics – communication. This has all along been a main undoing for the politicians of all hues here, unionists and separatists included.
Having said this, it should not be difficult to understand why today PDP finds itself facing the wall. Despite knowing it fully well that its alliance partner –BJP– is in no mood to respect the terms of alliance, yet the party is no position to do anything about it. Actually the PDP’s main undoing has been its inability to maintain rapport with its “support base”, with people’s urges and aspirations – and this is perhaps why this party is facing its worst nightmare in its once strong base in south Kashmir.
Instead of breaking down its rhetoric in terms of something that people could have understood and related with, the party remains etched up in emotionalism – talking of unknown “visions” and unseen “historic initiatives” and harping on the political improbables liking bringing north and south poles together. Extolling the virtues of its previous tenure — despite the fact that people’s memories are neither historically nor biologically programmed to support such things for long as their desires always expect and want more in the ‘here and now’ realm — has been yet another howler. When people are day-in and day-out, treated to same redundant political speeches that brag much and mean very little and deliver absolutely nothing, they are bound to turn their backs on the “visions and initiatives” which haven’t changed much for them in the past, nor do they hold any promise of changing a thing in future.
Leaving aside the big political “achievements”, let’s turn to the mundane. Is there a single road in satisfactory traffic-worthy condition PDP-BJP combine could present as ‘achievement’ of its three-and-half year’s rule? Is there a single hospital or health centre that could make it to the coalition’s achievement chart? Is there a single department they could present as corruption-free, and responsive to public needs? Is there any worthwhile action even in a single case of visible human rights violation (for instance, among the countless civilian killings) with proven culpability of state forces the government could showcase as being symbolic of its respect for civilian life and liberties in Kashmir?
When a government fails its people, the latter will also repay in the same coin. This squares it up for all and precipitates status quo – the same stalemate, which despite hurting all is unfortunately still unable to move even a pawn or a rook anywhere which could at least signal that people of Kashmir too count and matter.