Hello 2012 ! What Have You in Stock?

Goodbye 2011! ! ! Like many previous years you will also  be burying in your womb many mysteries, many behind-the-scene happenings, many closet meets, many secret parleys and many secret political deals that perhaps  at the hands of some dispassionate historians will burst open like a pod at some ripe time. Or, perhaps will remain buried forever, never to be revealed like many other mysteries.  I do not know how leaders, my people and I will go in the pages of history- and if the year to 2011, will go as a non-event history in the footnotes of the scarlet history of this land.

In official records the year will go as “one of the peaceful years in decades”, with highest ever tourism- 1.2 million tourists visiting the state and “bringing out a sea change in the state economy”.  Notwithstanding, my personal view of not counting tourism as an the important contributory factor to the state economy but only as an important input for strengthening the establishment discourses, an analytical impact report  from the chamber of commerce on tourism during the year gone by is yet awaited.

The Government is within its rights to rejoice conducting of successful Panchayat polls nearly after three decades and ensuring massive participation of people in these polls. It is different debate in conflict situations such massive participations are not exceptional, how and why it happens was recently very subtly analyzed  in an essay by author of God of Small Things. In drawing comparison   between situations as prevailed during, 2008 , 2009, 2010 and 2011, the authorities are within their  right to feel elated.  The three years had brought back   Kashmir to the Centre stage at the international level and the debate over Kashmir in international media was as strong as it was at the time of birth of the tragedy during 1947-1948. True, the issue had failed to cause yet another resolution on the floor of the United Nations Security Council asking for implementation of its earlier resolutions but the happenings in the state during the years had spawned a global discourse on Kashmir and many a think tanks had got involved a fresh in the debate.
The ‘dominant narrative’ that the departed year was year of peace has had the sway in media. Truth, is that ‘AFSPA’, which is the consequence, not cause not only emerged as an alternative discourse but virtually over took the people’s discourse. Even if one buys the argument that it was “orchestrated”; who so ever has been author of this ‘alternative discourse’ remained successful- it did not allow any other grass grow under its feet.  

There is also counter narrative suggesting that during the year not everything was hunky dory. The report brought out by a premier human rights organization in the state, the coalition of civil society states that “the figures of violent incidents suggest that 2011 as usual has been the year of loss, victimization, mourning and pain for the people. In 2011, 233 people have lost their lives due to violent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of 233 persons, 56 were civilians, 100 were alleged militants, 71 armed forces personnel and 6 were unidentified persons and counter insurgent renegades. Out of the total 56 civilians killed this year, 11 were students, amongst whom 7 were minors. Also amongst the civilians killed 6 were women.”

The party in power has also been drawing satisfaction over its strategy having worked in silencing the voice of dissent and ‘almost containing’ even the octogenarian Kashmir leader by restricting him to his house. It is again a matter of debate, if it has been their strategy within the ranks of the political leadership not subscribing to “finality of accession” that has worked but fact remains that majority of them largely choose a kind of political siesta. It is another debate that if the political leadership demanding “resolution of Kashmir dispute” ends up its siesta or not or like a character  in James Barrie’s famous drama The  Admirable  Crichton believe that “circumstances might alter cases; and the same person might not be the master and same person might…..”

The question haunts, what is in stock for us during 2012. The men in authority, on their 2011 experiences believe that there will be no change on home turf during the coming year- it will be peace and nothing but peace. I have no reason to dispute the official version but what has been catching my attention are the eminent tectonic shifts in South Asian scenario.

A leading Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune known for its pro-West tilt and  advocacy for trade and commerce with New Delhi greeted its readers on Sunday morning with the headline, “New Year’s gift: Obama signs bill freezing aid to Pakitsn.”  Washington froze 60 per cent of the $850 million aid, to its ten-year-old ally in Afghanistan. It imposed further sanctions on Iran. This has been done at a time when countdown for withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has already started. Not Karzai but Taliban seem to have emerged in US reckoning as the best bet for US for departing peacefully from the country it occupied ten years back. It seems that Taliban factor will emerge more important than others in the coming years. The question that I believe should engage attention is if these changes are going to impact Kashmir?

(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)