Secretive Kashmir Fund Runs

It is alleged that India has kept the conflict in Kashmir continuing intentionally, because of all that it stands to gain. It is extraordinarily difficult to tell exactly who is telling the truth in this long-running conflict, so thick is the smoke and so numerous the mirrors, and so entrenched the vested interests of all concerned in this beautiful but despairing corner of the world. All that it is certainly possible to say is that there is a great deal of money washing around and a number of people, specifically the elite, stand to gain a great deal for ensuring that the conflict continues. It might be to their benefit, but it is certainly not to the benefit of the people of Kashmir, the ones trying to make a living, to bring up their children, and to try to enjoy their lives, whilst all around them they see constant conflict and experience the by-product of hostilities. The man on the street in Muslim-dominated Kashmir has long suspected that the elite leadership is completely corrupt, amassing fortunes, evading tax, and buying up property and luxury homes abroad, whilst the ordinary Kashmiris struggle and die for the cause. The elite have become an assembly not of politicians speaking for the people, but of opportunistic men who have hijacked the original agenda of freedom.

Corruption and Foreign Influence

These people are in the pay of both India and Pakistan, and they receive massive amounts of funding from foreign and Indian and Pakistani sources, usually using the Islamic Hawala transactions, which are very difficult to trace, in comparison to all other financial products. The transactions which are made by businesses, financial organisations and individuals through the Hawala networks and clearing houses are traditional and informal, aiding those who want to hide the true provenance of their money. It is alleged that these Kashmir politicians are using exactly the same money laundering channels as the corrupt businessmen of India and Pakistan. Everyone knows too, that the political elite of Kashmir take money from both India and Pakistan. It isn’t a secret. As this is the situation, one wonders at the possibility of any hope for a possible resolution of the conflict. In addition to money from Pakistan and India and their intelligence agencies, Saudi Arabia and even foreign Islamic extremists intent on waging Jihad have been getting in on the act for some time. Although horticulture is the largest industry in Kashmir, and it brings a revenue of over 11 million US dollars to the state annually, this is not invested back into society, and the average Kashmiri never sees the benefit. No wonder those hoping for peace and societal improvement despair.

So, as militant violence in the valleys rises, this elite is making money out of the idealists who sacrifice their lives for the cause. There is almost a sense of anarchy in Kashmir, with money constantly changing hands, a continuous incentive for political leaders to perpetuate the conflict. These truths are unspoken, but the ordinary Kashmiri knows that each time he or she steps outside their front door, they run the terrible risk of being beaten, or raped, or killed. It is a precarious existence, rendered even more terrifying by the fact that the person who does harm them, or their family, is likely to be authorised to do so by one side- or both. India has estimated the civilian death toll in Kashmir at averaging 47,000, yet it is certain that noone will face justice. In any case, although the political elite continue to discuss corruption, they have no real intention of eradicating it; they benefit too much.

General VK Singh recently claimed that the Indian Army funds certain politicians and ministers from Jammu and Kashmir. This has aroused an incredibly hypocritical outrage amongst the media and the elite of Kashmir, as such behaviour is by no means a secret. What is disturbing, however, is that the efforts of these politicians to maintain stability in Kashmir is totally contrived. Indeed, it was the Wikileaks campaign that exposed these false efforts back in 2011. As the President of Kasmir Samiti, Sunil Sakdhar, recent stated, it is doubtful that anything will emerge from the talks. He has accused both India and Pakistan of using the ‘twin carrots of funding’ for favored political leaders and public meetings to create even greater divisions between Kashmiri politicians, as well as against the separatists. Indeed, both countries are certainly to blame. As far back as 2006 the United States House of Representatives held that both Kashmir and India should act to ensure the physical, political and economic security of Kashmiris.

A Political Settlement?

This outside influence and the descent into virtual anarchy means that the chances of a political settlement being achieved over Kashmir are looking increasingly unlikely. Talks have made little substantive progress and the political scene in Kashmir seems to have fragmented even further. Apart from the fact that politicians on all sides are cynical and have little real faith in the talks, the corrosive influence of money poisons the chances of a settlement even further. The leaked cable of a US State envoy, David Mulford, as far back as 2006, recorded the murky politics of Kashmir, observing how dirty money influences everything. US sources have reported on how it is not only the elite and the bureaucratic administration of Kashmir is utterly corrupt, embezzling money, but security officers have also found ways to bribe their way into lucrative logistics contracts. Additionally, the problem does not extend only to politicians and business people; there is now evidence that terrorists have begun to infiltrate institutions. Even the police are not immune. This is certainly a frightening prospect.

In Kashmir, from the decisions of politicians to rebels, terrorists, the Army and civil bureaucrats. No administration in Kashmir is safe from corruption, and now it faces an added danger: the infiltration of the terrorists. Yet most Kashmiris have become immured to the lack of a political settlement, accepting that the elite are constantly receiving money from both India and Pakistan, both the governments and the intelligence services of these countries, as well as from other foreign countries looking for a stake in Kashmir, such as Saudi Arabia. It is an irony in Kashmir that the loudest and most vociferous campaigners against corruption are the military-political elite, who are the greatest beneficiaries of the economic obfuscation. Many of them are notorious amongst Kashmiris for their corrupt practices and exploitation of the system. The political debate in Kashmir is marked by the discourse of corruption, portrayed as the most serious threat to the system, whilst its eradication is presented as the salvation of the country. Even so, corruption is not the cause of the current crisis; it is merely a symptom. It seems that to discuss the real social, cultural, economic and political roots of corruption is a step too far in Kashmir. Those who truly care for the country despair.

 

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