Quiet it is. Britain has recognized that by lifting its travel advisory to the state after a gap of twenty years. Germany and Japan have already declared the state as a safe haven for its citizens. In coming days and months, this recognition is perhaps coming to the state from many more European countries – in all likelihood, Washington will also follow the suit- the louder terse and simple message that has gone to the world is: Peace has returned to the state.
Quiet, with both note of exclamation and interrogation suffixed to it has set into motion ‘discourses’ with difference. Hundred and odd tour operators and hoteliers have been rejoicing it. It might have impacted the state economy as well- how much I have no idea, so far no figures are available about its contribution to the State’s GDP. In best of its times, the state claimed that tourism contributed ten percent to the state GDP. That for uncertainties always looming large in the state was a debatable.
The sleepy Kashmir University campus has become hub, more of political rather than academic activities. Some political parties have chosen the campus as a recruiting ground for strengthening their cadres for fighting the coming electoral battles and ideological wars. In late sixties and early seventies, the Pradesh Congress leadership with two of its ministers in the vanguard had made such an endeavor by extending its political activities to the campus. It had succeeded in alluring some students to its camp. Nevertheless, it had humiliatingly boomeranged with embarrassingly disturbing the farewell function of the Chancellor of the University, then Governor Bhagvan Sahi and latching the doors of campus to ministers and politicians for many years.
Quiet has also prompted some New Delhi based “nongovernment organizations” to pursue their agenda of conjuring alternative discourses in collaboration with some willing partners from the campus. Some of them have almost made it their second home. Some academia to use Edward Said’s phrase “in the misguide hope” of reorienting the peoples discourse are engaged in reinterpreting the history of the land and redefining the peoples’ sentiment. Some institutes are out and out busy in the task of reinterpreting the thoughts and ideas of the icons of this land and synchronizing them with the “dominant discourse”. The ideas that have moved this land for centuries and shaped its culture and social ethos are resilient enough to deflect any interpolations in the Kashmir discourse with repugnance. Nevertheless, there underlies a danger in tuning them to suit the ‘dominant discourse’, such endeavors have the potential of importing influences and thoughts from outside that can impair our social rubric.
Quite, has also caused a spurt in cultural activities. Genuine cultural activities grounded in social and cultural ethos of this land are a good idea. Encouraging revival of folk theatre for fighting societal ills and evils is equally good but using it as medium of propaganda for strengthening alternative narratives with political agenda is a dangerous game.
Quiet, has also had its impact on the globally recognized lexicon of Kashmir. Some frequently used phrases and idioms about Kashmir in international media like, ‘trouble-torn-state’, ‘dangerous place in world’, ‘nuclear flashpoint’ , ‘world’s highest militarized zone’, ‘Kashmir a blind spot in regional security’, ‘Asian Powers in Kashmir’ etc have now for past one year have been blue-penciled. Kashmir, as the state is popularly known in the world for over past decade and half had globally caused lot of academic interest in some major international universities. From Brookings Institute to the Harvard University and from the Chatham House, to Royal Institute for Defence and Security Studies almost every important institution connected with global peace has been debating and discussing the Kashmir. True, some researcher continue to be engaged in Kashmir studies but during past one year no major Kashmir related conference was reported in Srinagar press.
Quiet, has also enabled the powers that be to “silence” the voices of dissents by putting embargos on their activities but the question that bothers me is this quiet synonym for the peace that New Delhi for past many years has been looking for for resolution of the Kashmir problem. Ostensibly, there has not been any move except a nongovernmental organization bringing Muzzafarbad within ambit of its activities by conducting a group of socialite women across the LOC. India and Pakistan under canopy of the Chaophraya Dialogue, joint track-two initiative undertaken by the Jinnah Institute, Pakistan and Australia India Institute (AII) at Melbourne India and Pakistan have had couple of meetings but Kashmir for being counted as a spoiler was not talked or discussed.
Four out of seven members of the Hurriyat Conference Executive Council are traveling to Pakistan on November 17, 2012 for a five-day visit. Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi months back had invited the Hurriyat leaders’ of both the factions to Islamabad. Is the four members proposed visit of Mirwaiz led Hurriyat faction to Pakistan also a fall out this “quiet”- will be a wild guess but the ‘quiet’ perhaps can influence its thinking.
The visit however, has thrown up many a question. One, is this good well visit or political visit- if political what would be agenda for talks, will these talks have any bearing on future India and Pakistan talks. Two, timing of the visit, when Pakistan is about to go for the elections, Islamabad is bogged with terrorism and the security scenario in the region is cloudy. Three, why only four out of seven executive members have been included in the delegations and five how substantive can be these talks be when the other faction of the Hurriyat and leaders outsides the umbrellas are not on board.
In June 2005, when nine members of the Hurriyat Conference (M) delegation crossed over the LOC on a fifteen day sojourn to AJK for meeting Pakistan President General Musharraf the agenda was more than obvious; building a consensus on the four point formula. Syed Ali Geelani in his 17 April 2005 meeting with General Musharraf had made his cards open by seeing the four-point formula against the ‘aspirations’ of people of the state as enshrined in UN resolutions. Mirwaiz during year 2005 had five meetings with Pakistan President. As against, the 2005, meetings there is no agenda in public domain for the November 2012 visit. Meetings without agenda can at best be described tossup politics.