Peace through dialogue

Rising Kashmir

Peace through dialogue

June 10, 2018 02:09 AM 0Comment(s)468views

It is time for Kashmiri leadership on both sides to be given space as the issue is theirs

Khurram Wani

The talk of resuming peace dialogue between India and Pakistan no longer stirs hope in Kashmir. India and Pakistan have had 28 meetings between 2012 to 2015 to chart out a course for the resolution of the long-standing Kashmir dispute. The two arch-rivals have had several dozen high profile meetings and summits since the sub-continent was decolonized in 1947. They never made any progress on the Kashmir issue, however.

While the two countries have grown in military and economic prowess, they are losing moral standing over Kashmir dispute. It is a hard sell for Pakistan to support Kashmir on ethical grounds, while it refuses to even acknowledge the atrocities committed by its armed forces against Balochs and Pashtuns.

And it’s nearly impossible for India to convince Kashmiris about its democratic intentions, while it continues to engage in dog whistle politics and violence against regular Kashmiris. As a result of which Kashmiris continue to suffer everyday for past 70 years, and last 30 years specially has seen a huge increase in resentment, and suffering has no vent other than a violent response.

The situation on ground is volatile and getting worse. Young people in large numbers are joining militant ranks, schools and college students are getting involved in stone pelting, huge wave of radicalization even capturing highly educated minds which finds its base in the killings of militants and innocent civilians and use of pellet guns in the valley, in totality is making the situation very grim.

The new tactic of mowing down civilian protestors is the new low. The effect of the new trend of educated youth joining in militancy demanding their rights is strengthening the voice that calls for a resolution.

This has left no part of the society untouched by the movement. If the situation continues the way it is and is not addressed, it would lead to more radicalization of already highly angry and aggressive youth and this instability in Kashmir will be used by right wingers to create more hatred in both India and Pakistan for their electoral politics which will further worsen relations and conditions of both India and Pakistan externally and internally, making the whole region highly susceptible to war.

In a nutshell, if the issue is not addressed now, it is impossible to recover Kashmir. As seemingly it already looks very difficult to get back Kashmiri youth on a peaceful process again.

In this state of affairs, the path to reconciliation does become patchy. But it also allows the two nations to start afresh.The ceasefire in the holy month of Ramzan and the DGMOs of both the countries, India and Pakistan, deciding to honour 2003 cease fire on borders has created a hope in the angry and confused Kashmiri.

It is the time for Kashmiri leadership on both sides to be given space as the issue is theirs and they should have a say in it. Besides, only by leaving aside rigid demands can one make any progress in negotiating over a dispute.

At the same time, expecting Indian state to formally declare Kashmir as a dispute in letter and spirit as a condition for talks by separatist leaders is being naive. Keeping the local politics of the central government of India into consideration, an offer of an unconditional dialogue is an important step. Acceptance of talks is already acceptance of an issue.

And moreover, the Ramzan ceasefire observed by India is a welcome sign, though it’s being violated by the militants. The separatist leaders should call upon militants, ask them to respect the ceasefire to make the atmosphere conducive. All the sides should get into talks with open mind and kind intention fuelled by a political will not ego.

This dialogue process must be seen in the backdrop of the Gilgit-Baltistan Order passed a few days ago that makes GB region, a part of the disputed territory of Kashmir, fifth province of Pakistan.

Erosion of its disputed status is one way of looking at it; another would be to see it as granting more financial and administrative authority to the province. Latter is the discourse that Pakistani government is using to diffuse any anger in the people of the region for eroding their status.

Simultaneous unconditional offer by Indian leadership is a direction towards which the dialogue can be headed. How many more sacrifices should Kashmiris offer and how much should we suffer? A negotiation is always possible and a true leadership always facilitates negotiation.

The situation of unending death and destruction must force India and Pakistan states to introspect and rethink their respective statecrafts, which they have borrowed from the oppressive British colonial state. The military and civilian leadership of both the nations should learn to break away from majoritarianism, deep state agendas and conflict-driven vested interests. Then only they could engage with Kashmiris through a well-meaning dialogue process.

The countries can take inspiration from the age old rivals like Russia and Turkey. Their animosity predates the era of Partition and the two World Wars. Russia and Ottoman Turkey fought several wars between 16th and 20th century. It was the Russia’s expansionist policies that cost the Ottomans largeterritories in the Balkans region. The Balkan wars still evoke strong passions among modern day Turks and Russians.

And this turbulent history became one of the main reasons why Turkey allied with the western powers and formally entered the NATO in 1951.

The ongoing war in Syria fomented a shift in regional alliances. The frosty relations between Turkey and Russia began to thaw in 2014, when Turkey hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ankara. Putin traded a language of peace and military cooperation with his Turkish counterpart, RecepTayyipErdogan. To foreign policy experts, the meeting pointed at the waning influence of the US’ in the Middle East.

There were moments, though, when the blossoming ties came on the brink of rupture. In the autumn of 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border. The plan had violated the Turkish airspace for 16 seconds and the Turkey border security was quick in taking it down. Russia condemned Turkey’s act and things became tense between the two sides.

But within a few days, Erdogan called Putin and apologized. But exactly a year later, the Russian-Turkish relationship again went through testing times.

In December 2016, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at a public event in Ankara. The assassin turned out to be a police officer, who had reportedly joined the ISIS. The incident was intense enough to break the fostering relations, but again Putin demonstrated leadership and continued to invest in strengthening ties with Turkey. Surviving the two assaults, Erdogan and Putin not only changed the course of the Syrian war, but also defeated non-state actors, who seemed to have preferred the state of hostility between the two powers.

When there’s determination and political will, the talks can never get sabotaged.Any institution or vested interest trying to spoil the environment will automatically be marginalized and made irrelevant if the leadership takes strong steps.

As majority of Kashmiris wants to have a peaceful and dignified life where their identity and choice is respected, the two nation states must make it possible. It is not only in the best interest of Kashmir but in their best interests too.

The right wingers in both countries will always halt the dialogue and by letting them impact peace in the religion is only emboldening and empowering them. If they are so dedicated to the cause of destruction, why cannot the peace lovers be dedicated to the cause of reconciliation?

Keeping the changes brought in to GB and being practical and learning lessons from history and contemporary politics, it is an appeal to Kashmiri leadership to keep a roadmap of negotiation ready- it must value our current political identity and empower our status towards a free and a peaceful life.

And moreover the recent event of the United States’ shifting its embassy to Jerusalem should act as a good learning example. This decision put all the freedom lovers of Palestine on a back seat.

It simultaneously killed the idea of two nation theory as well, which was proposed by the world community as part of the peaceful reconciliatory process and a possible solution between the two competing states of Israel and Palestine, though which was never allowed to take a shape due to different groups with different opinions like Hamas and Fatah representing Palestinian dissent- Hamas wanted an armed rebellion against Israel and Fatah wanted to indulge in dialogue process.

The division in approach and contradictory opinion was used against the two nation theory by Israeli authorities stating suspicion and confusion on the behalf of Palestine political parties till both Hamas and Fatah were made irrelevant. Today even two nation theory or negotiation is long lost.

So, we learn opportunities offered should never be missed and should be dealt with wisdom and unity. More we combine our ideas and ways to achieve them, closer we will get to our goals, and hence lesser we can be divided and misinterpreted or even manipulated.

And let’s remember being the followers of Islam that the last revered Prophet Muhammad (SAW) of our Islam always loved the way where minimum bloodshed would happen and all the sides feel the benefit of the resolution.

And one can also take a cue from the major changes in Saudi Arabia which are pointing towards inclusiveness and ending an era of exclusiveness and extremism. Saudi Arabia is also giving away with the ideals which made them who they were in the global and Muslim politics.

Therefore, pointing towards the idea that there is no permanence in politics and idea of a nation in today’s dynamic and continuously changing world cannot be rigid.

Therefore the youth of Kashmir, should realize getting stuck with one idea never works. At the same time Kashmiri leadership and youth should be open to realities of the situations and should not undermine the limitations of the stake holders involved in the dialogue process so as to come to a reasonable resolution which should lead to a free and peaceful Kashmir.

In the end, I would like to appeal to all the players of the dialogue process that let Kashmir be the melting pot for peace, and exchange place of ideas, trade, unity and secularism as it has been historically. Let this be the end of the dark era of violence and suffering.

The reconciliation process to reparations and a meaningful dialogue can start a new beginning towards a more empowered, free and peaceful Kashmir.

Praying and hoping for the best. May our sufis and reshis send their blessings down on us to break this political stalemate in Kashmir.