Let actions also do some talking!
It has been for long now that people here have been listening to the official assertions about prioritizing development to bring a turnaround in the situation here. The words and terms like ‘fast-track’ (development) despite being recent entrants into the official vocabulary have become sort of clichés by now. Cynicism aside, the unfortunate reality is that whatever is said in political speeches is not visible as much on the ground. This is indeed the great worry and reason for the people not being amused by such assertions.
Political speeches alone don’t suffice the need, certainly not in Kashmir which has been torn apart by decades of conflict – a civil war like situation. Any government, whatever its composition and complexion, as some important studies conducted into the conflict situations world-over indicate, here will be confronted with two major challenges. First, Kashmir has a high risk of further conflict, and so a key objective of the policy must be to reduce this risk as rapidly as possible. Second, given that there has been a severe social and economic decline, second key objective is to restore economic and social conditions.
The high risks of further conflict reflect both risks inherited from prior to the conflict as well as the risks caused by the conflict. Simply put, in Kashmir context it will mean the risks that were there prior to 1989 when armed insurgency formally surfaced. As the history stands witness, the institutional break-down in the state during mid-to-late-eighties, rampant corruption and unaccountability in both politics and bureaucracy, and above all the unresolved political questions -- the intra-state dimension of the state’s relationship with New Delhi as well as the inter-state aspect of Kashmir being a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan duly acknowledged by the international community, comprise the risks inherited from prior to 1989 era.
Unfortunately, despite all the bloodshed and mayhem of the intervening thirty years as well as the political pledges that have followed all along, and are being made with ever-increased audacity even today, not much has been done to take care of and neutralize these risks. In fact the situation seems to have only graduated from bad to worse. Corruption and unaccountability have grown and multiplied so much so that the state figures at among the most–corrupt states.
Government’s institutions and systems, including the all-important correction systems, remain as ineffective as they were prior to 1989. Be it the corrupt and brutal policing systems or the lethargic judicial system, access to justice continues to remain a distant dream for the majority. On the inter-state front too, the relationship between India and Pakistan has worsened over the years. Needless to say that they are as far away from addressing the questions pertaining to Kashmir as they were prior to the break-out of armed militancy here.
Common sense is that if a place faces an unusually high risk of conflict from a particular source, it should devote particular attention to reducing that risk. Now it is for the governments here as well as in New Delhi to look if they are giving the kind of attention to the factors that comprise the major risks and keep Kashmir eternally caught up in the conflict trap. Not only are the pre-conflict factors crying for attention but the post-1989 ramifications too -- the risks born out of the conflict during past thirty years – also need to be tackled and reduced as quickly as possible.