Touseef Raina

Introducing result-oriented strategies for promoting peace and reconciliation in J&K

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What has really been perturbing the common people is that the efforts and initiatives aimed at promoting "lasting peace" in the trouble-torn Valley have not been well elucidated.

After 4 years of death and destruction, the end of the First World War gave rise to peace and reconciliation between the nation-states in the form of the “League of Nations”, though it couldn’t withstand the challenges, as long as expected, for which it was founded. And, as a result, unfortunately, the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace collapsed under the weight of the Second World War. After almost six years and one day, the Second World War came to an end and immediately led to the establishment of the “United Nations” (UN); on the same lines as “League of Nations”.

Both the “League of Nations” and “United Nations” stirred the level of political action needed to put an end to the wars before more lives were needlessly lost. These intergovernmental organizations, particularly the UN, enabled the world leaders to argue, to debate, and understand where the progress comes from. It took compromise on all sides and most importantly the willingness to look back unsparingly at the history to bring peace and stability to the World as a whole. However, throughout its existence, the UN has met with several strong challenges but it continues to operate in spite of this.

In the context of the aforementioned argument, taking the lessons from remote or recent history becomes indispensable through which leaders better handle the issues related to security, social instability and conflict. It also becomes clear that policies related to the peace and stability need to be implemented primarily through incentives and institutions.

Jammu and Kashmir’s remote and recent history offers enough insights to explain a) How the situation in the conflict-torn region has evolved over the years? b) Where has it got us? c) Where to go next? And moreover, the origin, machinations and repercussions of the political turmoil here are now so clear that they hardly need any further elaboration and recollection. However, what has really been perturbing the common people is that the efforts and initiatives aimed at promoting “lasting peace” in the trouble-torn Valley have not been well elucidated. Had that not been the case, then of course 30 long years was sufficient time for those at the helm of the erstwhile state to introduce the result-oriented and institutionally feasible strategies for promoting peace and reconciliation in Jammu and Kashmir.

On the first two questions, we can look back to history but to explore the question of where to go next, we need to do this from a historical and as well as institutional perspective.

So where to go next?

Whether you agree or disagree, there is no doubt that Pakistan wields considerable influence in Kashmir through fear, violence, intimidation and controlling perceptions. Without going into ‘why’ ‘what’ and ‘how’ of this assertion, it should suffice to say that dealing with Pakistan should be left exclusively to the diplomatic and security experts of the country – and both have been doing pretty well on that issue. However, tackling the situation within Jammu and Kashmir both at political and administrative levels merits looking at the conflict as the manifestation of peoples’ alienation from New Delhi, which in reality is the result of popular resentment against the successive elected governments, lack of employment and development; besides, the denial of certain democratic rights.

Unfortunately, as if unmindful of all these dynamics, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been tackled largely through good managerial skills, bereft of proper momentum and motivation for the resolution of issues on a sustainable basis. There have been efforts at containing the militancy by manning and not maintaining standards right since its beginning in Kashmir. These efforts were two-pronged: first, attempting to seize or arrest the phenomenal violence militarily and second, trying to defeat or neutralize the vehemence of the ideologies of the militant and secessionist elements.

Even though the mechanisms employed for containing the violent uprisings have yielded some results, however, there is a desperate need for a change of policy now. Dynamics of the situation in Kashmir have changed with the change in the geopolitical situation globally and also domestically owing to the changes brought about by altering the constitutional status of the erstwhile state within the Indian union, which have brought about a marked shift in popular perceptions here over the past one and a half year. Inarguably, the common people today are perceptibly neither moved by the locus classicus of the separatist leadership (whatever remnants of it are visible) nor by the phraseology of Pakistan for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their welfare.

The current situation merits and demands more than lip-service and concerted people-centric efforts. It is time that those at the political helm understand the present situation and accordingly devise the future course of action. And if people-centricity approach becomes the guiding principle, peace certainly will not remain elusive for long.

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