‘Peace is won only by effort and resolve’
History has an uncanny habit of repeating itself. Unfortunately at a place like Kashmir, it is only the bad precedents that get repeated, and almost at regular intervals. What is still more unfortunate is that all these bad things happen at times when there is visibly no reason for such occurrences – whenever the Valley begins to inch towards some degree of normality and calm!
“The transition from war to peace does not come spontaneously or easily… years of strife inevitably leave deep scars, bitter memories and rancour. Peace is won only by the effort and resolve. There must, therefore, be a change in attitudes, a change in mentalities.” These words of the former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, on the occasion of the final demobilization of El Salvador’s FMLN in December 1992, could be an important take-off point if the state is ready to shun its protracted and biased attitudes and mentalities vis-à-vis Kashmir and its people.
In 1999, during a seminar sponsored by UN Institute for Training and Research, a participant while talking on peacemaking identified two types of peace: the “no more shooting type” and “no need for more shooting type”.
The remark obviously captured an essential distinction governing the resolution of conflicts, besides of course talking about the conditions for peace – for instance, ending the fighting between the insurgents (read natives also) and the state, and building peace over the long term by establishing stable polities that process and deal with conflict without recourse to violence. The latter effort involves an attempt to address at least some of the conditions that led to the conflict in the first place.
Now looking at these propositions, it goes without saying that the government forces have to make a choice about the ‘type of peace’ they want here, if at all they want any.
While there is not much they can do about the ‘political irritants’, for which the political executive will have to mobilize will and resources if long-term peace is the aim, they can certainly make a pledge not to do anything that would bring blame on the state’s monopoly over the use of force under terms agreeable under international law, and to the general population here. Their bad human rights record in Kashmir has only added fuel to the fire, regularly and continuously!
If there is any appreciation for this, then obviously the state and its armed forces will think twice before actually avenging this week’s suicide bombing. What is alarming is that the warning – about avenging the killings -- has come from both the political executive and the CRPF. Now the question that can be asked is: who is going to be at the receiving end of this revenge. Of course it cannot be Pakistan, for the CRPF’s mandate and jurisdiction confines its actions within the territorial limits of India. Then, does it mean that it is the people of Kashmir against whom they are going to direct their revengeful ire?
For years, both state and its armed forces have pledged “zero tolerance” for human rights violations here. But as of now this promise from the highest political offices has been obeyed more in breach than in adherence. This abject disregard to the political pledges and violation of fundamental and constitutional rights of the people has come from the very people about whom we are being constantly told – “they are here to protect people and uphold the law of the land”. Indeed the breach of this pledge is also one of the major causes for continuation and escalation of trouble here. Needless to say this unruly behaviour has always cost New Delhi its face and goodwill (if any) in Kashmir.
So while the onus of bringing about the lasting peace -- the “no need for more shooting type” -- lies actually on the political executive; but until New Delhi makes its mind on that, the armed forces operating here could at least be asked to ensure political calm by sustaining peace of “no more shooting type”. Now this is not asking for too much. If there is sincere will, the goal is very much achievable.