DISCOURSES OF WAR AND PEACE IN KASHMIR

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A POSITIONING ANALYSIS
 
 
This re-orientation of the history of Kashmir through the lens of self-determination (utilizing positioning-theory) was meant to present an alternative perspective to the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. A secondary objective was to bring attention to the significant rhetorical element of the conflict – notably through examining the positioning and counter positioning of India and Pakistan. If anything, the number of staunchly held positions and exclusive, zero-sum rhetoric has complicated this already intricate conflict. Finally, this analysis was also intended to highlight the inconsistencies between the rhetoric and action of the parties to the conflict: essentially separating positions from interests and needs.
 
In particular, this paper argued that the ideal of self-determination is a discursive cornerstone of the modern conflict in Kashmir. The history section detailed the events and developments which related to the evolution of democratic ideals in Kashmir, particularly the principles of self-rule and self-determination. In sum, before the 20th century, the people of Kashmir and Jammu had never been given the option to decide their future for themselves. Thus, when the idea of a plebiscite and the right to a plebiscite was introduced in this period, the Kashmiri people began to heavily frame their discourses in terms of self-determination. It is easy to see how the repeated denial of the promised plebiscite had led to feelings of betrayal and deprivation by the Indian government in Kashmir.
 
While this analysis focuses specifically on Kashmir, it is broadly about the difficulties in implementing self-determination. The conflict in Kashmir demonstrates that there is a wide range of interpretations of self-determination, depending on whether one is the majority or minority power. Essentially, while the concept of self-rule may seem simple in the abstract, in 82 practice it is hugely complicated. Kashmir is not the only example of this – for instance, Iran had a similar dilemma in that the people were offered two choices: the Shah or the Islamic Republic, but no third option of self-determination. Furthermore, why was Sudan permitted a referendum in January of 2011, while numerous other groups worldwide are not given the choiceto decide their independence? There are many groups of people who desire autonomy in their own territory – Why are some granted this wish and others not? These are some of the broad questions this analysis raises.
 
Implications for Resolution
 
The primary implication of this positioning analysis is that the positions that India and easy to see how the repeated denial of the promised plebiscite had led to feelings of betrayal and deprivation by the Indian government in Kashmir.
 
While this analysis focuses specifically on Kashmir, it is broadly about the difficulties in implementing self-determination. The conflict in Kashmir demonstrates that there is a wide range of interpretations of self-determination, depending on whether one is the majority or minority power. Essentially, while the concept of self-rule may seem simple in the abstract, in 82 practice it is hugely complicated. Kashmir is not the only example of this – for instance, Iran had a similar dilemma in that the people were offered two choices: the Shah or the Islamic Republic, but no third option of self-determination. Furthermore, why was Sudan permitted a referendum in January of 2011, while numerous other groups worldwide are not given the choiceto decide their independence? There are many groups of people who desire autonomy in their own territory – Why are some granted this wish and others not? These are some of the broad questions this analysis raises.
 
Implications for Resolution
 
The primary implication of this positioning analysis is that the positions that India and and 83 Kashmir, is an example of mutually-exclusive rhetoric that needs to be revised. Another Government of India website states that “the area of India is 3,287,240 Sq km*” but “*This area figure excludes 78,114 sq. km. under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, 5,180 sq. km. Illegally handed over by Pakistan to China and 37,555 sq.km. under the illegal occupation of China in Ladakh district” (‘India Basic Facts: Area’, 2010.)
 
 Without going extensively into a potential peace-process for Kashmir, perhaps the best route for Kashmir peace lies in greater autonomy for IAJK and a greater commitment of the Indian government to protection of human rights and democratic processes. Such a solution
 
would likely return Kashmir to another ‘special status’ case, where India once again has limited jurisdiction. Sumantra Bose also recommends facilitating more cross-ties between Azad Kashmir and IAJK, ultimately culminating in a more open border, as a primary method of combating the frequent spoiler of cross-border terrorism (Bose, 2003, p. 263).
 
Finally, a note on timing. Suggested peace processes tend to list several actions which should take place immediately, such as initiating dialogue and engaging in trust-building exercises. However, in many instances it may be wiser to wait for an opportune moment to initiate a peace process. This is the basis of William Zartman’s Conflict Ripeness theory, which states that parties in a conflict will seek a political solution when both reach a mutually hurting stalemate. Such a phase is referred to as a ‘ripe’ moment for conflict resolution (Zartman, 2001).
 
One of the paths to peace, therefore, is pushing the parties in a conflict into a ripe moment. It may be the case that a hurting stalemate already exists, and the extent of the ‘hurting’ must be made apparent to the parties. For instance, India, which is seemingly happy with the status quo regarding Kashmir (or at least happier than Pakistan), in reality wastes tremendous amounts of 84 resources on the prolonged conflict. Bose concludes her book by noting that “For India, the status quo power in the conflict, negotiating a compromise settlement would liberate enormous financial and human resources now invested in a protracted war or pacification and control that cannot be won militarily, prove India’s maturity and confidence as the world’s largest and most diverse democracy, and significantly advance India’s well-founded aspiration to be an economic and political player of global stature. In the event of a military escalation of the Kashmir conflict India, a huge country of enormous economic potential, has much more to lose than Pakistan does.” (Bose, 2003, p. 265).
 
There are certainly many opportunities for increased political cooperation between India and Pakistan, especially given the ‘global war on terrorism’. Even the recent Cricket World Cup provided speculation on ‘cricket diplomacy’ between Pakistan and India (‘World Cup cricket boosts India and Pakistan ties’, BBC News, Mar. 31, 2011).
 
In Hamlet, Act IV, Scene IV, Hamlet runs across the forces of Prince Fortinbras, and inquires what they are fighting over. The Captain replies,
 
Truly to speak, sir, and with no addition,
We go to gain a little patch of ground,
That hath in it no profit but the name.
(Scene IV, Act IV)
 
While Kashmir is certainly more than a ‘patch of ground’, discursively it often seems that India and Pakistan claim Kashmir under decades-old rhetoric removed from the actual conditions in Kashmir. Indeed, the 1965 and 1999 Kashmir wars did not result in any tangible gains – only rhetorical victories. India and Pakistan must reconcile their positions to reflect realistic expectations for the solution of the Kashmir conflict. Furthermore, both nations need to involve representatives of the Kashmiri people in the peace process and allow Kashmiris a say in their own future. India and Pakistan are both committed to this idea rhetorically, but not behaviorally.
 
This analysis traced the major positions which have contributed to the intractable nature of the Kashmiri conflict. In the interest of peace, however, these positions must be reconciled for constructive and cooperative measures.