Kashmir needs serious resolve

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On the occasion of the final demobilization of El Salvador’s FMLN in December 1992, then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said: “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 effort and resolve. There must therefore be a change in attitudes, a change in mentalities. Reconciliation must be the new challenge; social justice and the struggle against poverty, the new goals.”

Let’s look at Kashmir and try and see what this statement could mean for ‘us’. The past over two decades of bloody turmoil have done some irreparable damage to the politico-social fabric of the society. It has left very deep wounds and scars, which are refusing to heal, and if left unattended would continue to haunt the society for years to come in the form of very bitter memories, which would inevitably trigger hate. Needless to say that this hate alone has the potential to continue fuelling conflict and push the entire society and the state deeper into the recesses of conflict trap. As of now nothing has been done to address both visible as well as latent causes of conflict here. Instead, riding proudly on the ‘high’ of its managerial skills, the state (and its agencies) continue patting itself about the ability to have contained the dissent. What is really unfortunate is that nobody wants to look and think beyond it. For the state the ‘return of peace’ is just confined to and deduced from the people’s participation in elections – Assembly elections being latest example. And given years following the successive summers of widespread unrest (2008-2010) have been relatively calm, the state is going ecstatic about what it calls the “return of peace” to the Valley and has thus opted to revert back to its traditional way of thrusting head deep into the sands of disbelief.

What is really frustrating is that even the measures that were initiated to try and find a way out of the imbroglio ‘within’ at the height of the summer 2010 turmoil – like the appointment of interlocutors – have been consigned to waste-bins. For instance, while the government has not bothered to inform people about what was there in the report of the interlocutors appointed after 2010 summer unrest, capping its complacence is the fact that their recommendations too have been left to gather dust. So yet another initiative announced and sold like a ‘big measure’ has been consigned to nothingness as the government itself has shown no interest in discussing and debating whatever was recommended by the interlocutors, leave aside implementing the same. No wonder this attitude has once again lent credence to the separatists’ assertions and popular beliefs here about the Government of India’s lack of resolve in dealing with Kashmir by going beyond its time-tested tactic of buying time.

Boutros-Ghali’s assertion that “peace is won only by effort and resolve”, makes a meaningful statement as what has been missing with Government of India is both the effort and the resolve to address the causes and manifestations of conflict in Kashmir. Ghali says “there must be a change in attitudes, a change in mentalities”. But here these changes are visible nowhere. Neither has New Delhi shown any change in its attitude nor is it willing to change its mentality. In such a confusing situation, one really wonders if at all New Delhi has a policy about and towards Kashmir. It has, over the years, learned the art of managing the conflict within the mountain-walled precincts of the Valley so well that it has not been cause of major diplomatic embarrassment for it, although this can be credited to some degree to the inherent weaknesses of the global institutions as well. Addressing the questions that plague its relationship with Kashmir has never been a priority for the ruling echelons in New Delhi. But now that the BJP-led NDA government has once again taken over for a fresh term, let’s start with some optimism, hoping that there is some headway in resolving Kashmir, both in its international as well as domestic manifestations. Let’s hope Kashmir finally gets to see some serious effort and resolve for peace.

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