When the partition happened, leaders in Kashmir were assigned roles in exchange for loyalties to both respective countries which meant division of leadership into pro-India and pro-Pakistan
Our ambitions were hijacked by the most bizarre shortcut: Chowdary Abbas and Muslim Conference to Pakistan and National Conference and Sheikh Abdullah to India. There was no erosion on this because there was no room for erosion in an advantageous centralized power sharing structure as both countries had an appetite to gobble up Kashmir ever since the whites flee the sub-continent. Kashmir was neither a part of Pakistan nor India before 1947.
It was part of an independent princely state by default under a hereditary monarch ruler through a bilateral agreement with the British Empire.
The conceptual partition of Kashmir was only applicable until British rule. Today, the perspectives of both India and Pakistan are far less liable in the context of struggle and sacrifices rendered by the people of Kashmir. This heinous and extremely wicked act of emotional outsourcing eroded the role of Kashmiris. The prevailing political sentiment of majority Kashmiris has been against the prevailing political arrangement with both countries.
When the partition happened, leaders in Kashmir were assigned roles in exchange for loyalties to both respective countries which meant division of leadership into pro-India and pro-Pakistan. There were different classes of leaders in Kashmir: ‘popular and unpopular,’ ‘educated and uneducated,’ ‘gangsters and opportunists’- all united for an advantageous common cause: a role in the new emerging state of affairs. This grabby tradition started developing leaders rather than identifying leaders which sadly persist till date. Sheikh Abdullah and Chowdary Abbas were two former friends, fellow political comrades and their political differences helped both countries in formation of an individual power structure. Both leaders were exploited and they ensured that no secondary democratic institutions were developed on either side. Efforts were made to weaken pro-Kashmir camps in both countries by isolating people and transforming Kashmir into a zone of artificial political institutionalization. Even after decades, both parts of Kashmir are subject to a serious dispute, as there is no kinship between two parts since 1947, which is supplemented by a shoddy and deceptive political nomenclature.
The Indian side of argument of accession argues that Kashmir is an integral part but their claims cannot be justified historically, morally or legally. Indian political machinery has to realise that the ongoing political and social movements, continual loss of life and property is an indicator and reminder that ignorantly holding on to the land by armed aggression, hijacking freedom of choice and keeping the dispute unresolved totally violates accepted principles of liberty under international law structures. Delay tactics may favour India but it is not an advantageous asset to the people of Kashmir by any means. Historically, Indians can be held guilty to flee Maharaja forcibly from Kashmir and for massacre of Muslims. The deed of Accession, whether valid or invalid, is inculcated with sovereign rights and establishes a loose linkage with India .The Indian state’s attitude on plebiscite has not been worthy of reliance from time to time. Kashmiri psyche has somehow firmly refused to be a part of Indian integration. This is a coarse yet an honest political reality.
The harsh reality remains that India never had a majority sentiment among the major sections of Kashmiri society. Every common Kashmiri citizen can articulate tales of agonies, arrest or embarrassment and frustrations of frisking at a military check point. India has miserably failed in binding together the people of Kashmir because attitude of India has left negative imprints on resolution process. People in Kashmir do not expect the state of India to constitute a resolution. The conclusions drawn by the people suggest that the Indian state has not delivered in the past and will not deliver at present or in the coming future. This is an uncanny dilemma which can be resolved only by the state of India, and has to contribute to its political image building, both at national and international levels.
Islamic Republic of Pakistan has also failed to fulfil obligations of an honest and helpful neighbour which unfortunately persists till today. Historically, mostly everyone believes in a theory that the North-West Frontier tribesmen assailed Kashmir as armed brigands, who were seeking to plunder and win booties, and seemed less as freedom pundits for Kashmiris. At that time, Pakistani army didn’t bother to use aggressive means which would had curbed a controlled invasion. For decades, Pakistan has failed in controlling its intelligence units which has used aggression and conspiracies as a successful dispatch against India. The complete extermination of Jehadi camps in Pakistan still remains a distant reality. Religious fundamentalism, civil strife and minority intolerance looms large in Pakistani politics. The discredited politicians of Pakistan are busy amassing wealth and are cohorts of vendetta politics. Military junta is always looking to seize political power. These are just hapless political circumstances but the most shocking revelation is the Article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan which presumes that ‘whenever the people of Indian occupied Kashmir decide to accede with the State of Pakistan , their relationship with Azad Kashmir would be decided according to wishes of the Kashmiris!’ This is a strange misappropriation of beliefs and claims. At the same time Pakistan takes a resolute stand in saying that the land of Kashmir is a disputed territory and it only needs to be solved according to the wishes of Kashmiris.
Pakistan has institutionalised its relationship with ‘Azad Kashmir’ through a council headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Azad Kashmir, as the name suggests, has it own Prime Minister, President, Supreme Court, magistrates, and enjoys considerable autonomy under the Pakistani dominion – a less disputed arrangement if we talk of Indian arrangement with Kashmir in comparison. However, there have been similar stories of rigged elections and leadership biases. Many political commentators have accused Pakistan in empowering these glossy titles to their ideological allies in Azad Kashmir.
There has been no genuine civilized interaction between the two countries. Wars have been fought, negotiations have been attempted, pacts have been signed, an armed movement is still on and yet a decisive outcome is still elusive. Even till now the outlook of a common Indian and Pakistani hasn’t changed. Both commit hate and nurture visions of destruction for each other. Both are still obsessed with the competing versions of history through state media. The domestic politicians of Kashmir in turn want to whip each other through hostile sentiments. Both countries are ruined with a fatal overdose of bilateralism and want to pursue a resolution by giving riddance to the masses of Kashmir. This has set the stage for a historic battle of arrogates, wars, countless counter attacks on media, which has resulted in daunting hope for the people of Kashmir. The resolution process of Kashmir is vested in Indian and Pakistani interests and not according to the ambitions of Kashmiris. The most unfortunate part is the delusory propaganda carried on the TV media. There is a feeling of betrayal among the mindset of Kashmiris, on both sides, resulting in a social obsession to change the piteous destiny of Kashmir.
Nevertheless, the new generation of Kashmir is already showing signs of a distinct mindset and have the spirit to change the destiny of troubled Kashmir. The new era in the region is increasingly being defined by high literacy rates, easy accessibility to media, internet, more exposure in a global world. Well-informed, economically prosperous, globally conscious members of the coming generations of Kashmir are likely to translate into emancipated and articulate minds of the future. The youth at present are better placed to resolve the dispute than previous generations.
Author is an avid blogger, and convener of the intellectual activism group, Insights: Kashmir. His blogs have been published in national and international journals like Open Democracy, Comment Factory and Muslim Institute London. He can be mailed at email@example.com.