Look beyond the UN resolutions
attempt to place the Kashmir issue into water-tight compartments
– islamic militiancy, cross-border terrorism, secessionist
insurgency, ethno-national demand -- does less good and more damage
to the variety of factors and the sheer complexity of elements, and
their radical hybridity that have caused the problem in Kashmir.
There is no gainsaying that it is a highly volatile and extremely
contentious matter for which there are no, indeed cannot be, any
maps prejudge the issue; readymade solutions make the problem a
distorted image of what it actually is and models make a mockery of
the specificity of the issue. All that one can hope to discuss at a
forum like this is to look for a framework for a solution. A context
in which the issue can be placed and the contours of solution worked
to doing so, it might help if we quickly run through the major
strands of thought in the resolution paradigm. First, and perhaps,
the oldest are the “internationalists” who look towards the
United Nations for a settlement. I believe that it is time that we
look beyond it.
those who are aggrieved, use the international community as an
object of appeal for more than human rights. But the fact of the
matter is that there is no international community. It had some type
of structure as long as the United Nations was an organization,
which exerted a certain pressure on the policies and situation of
governments. With the United Nations having been marginalised, there
is no centre where a long-term view can be taken and a platform of
principle constructed. If we do this, it is akin to assuming the
position of litigant before a court, which does not exist.
second most popular strand of thought comes from the
“status quoists”. They want to convert the Line of
Control in Jammu and Kashmir into an international border. Given
that it is the Line of conflict, to recommend that the problem
should be resolved on the basis of the Line of Control, can at best
be a part of the solution not the solution, if done on a stand-alone
basis. Internal dimension of the problem cannot be wished away.
oft-repeated demand for autonomy, which has its origins in the early
50s, is itself a compromise solution. Even though it recognises, the
ethno-nationalism of Kashmiris, the implied political position is
that ethnicity need not engender nationhood. That is why
independence is not the pursued goal of autonomist viewpoint.
Instead, the issue was whether Kashmir should join Pakistan or
political movement of the mainstream parties was not to pursue the
process of nationality-formation to the point where political
structures were sought to be made congruent with nationality by
creating an independent entity. This came to the fore in 1975. The
view thereafter was that even if Kashmiris are a nation it doesn't
axiomatically follow that they are entitled to a nation-state. Hence
the desire to create an "enclave of autonomy within
most political analysts subscribing to the autonomist viewpoint do
recognise the ethno-nationalism of the Kashmiris -- Kashmiriyat --
they differ from the advocates of independence insofar as the latter
go further and make an ethno-territorial demand.
the basis of this form of autonomy as practiced in the early 1950s
was flawed as it sought to create an enclave of federalism within a
unitary system and combine the advantages of a loose federation with
those of a centralised system without impairing its functioning. But
now these situations have changed with the regional parties gaining
in prominence and the centre being ruled by a coalition of political
parties. Even though it is the same Constitution, the spirit is far
more federal today and the autonomy issue may not suffer from the
same ills as it did earlier.
then there are down-the-line issues. How can one conceive of
political autonomy without a fiscal autonomy? Political autonomy
derives its substance and sustainability from economic independence.
The most serious problem with the pre-1953 position is that there
will be no financial or fiscal links between the Union of India and
the state of J&K.
the current dispensation it will be difficult for the state
government even to pay its wage-bill, let alone finance its
development. This is not a reflection of the unviability of the
state economy but a commentary on how over the years, successive
regimes – at the Centre and the State – colluded and worked in
tandem to make a vibrant economy completely dependent on central
resource transfers. In its present form, this demand shows a
complete stagnation of ideas and lack of foresight.
real danger in this case is that the autonomist viewpoint, can be
very easily diluted which then goes to compromise the basic
principle of ethno-nationalism. The entire effort to create an
autonomous unit in recognition of the historically inherited
ethno-nationalism can with the stroke of pen be firmly condemned to
the byzantine labyrinth of Indian federal issues. Indeed, in the
fifties, even the position of the head of government – Prime
Minister of Jammu and Kashmir -- was not institutionalised and hence
could be subverted without much effort.
moot point is not to look for solutions in the past; but to find
them in the future. A return to the past may not be possible; indeed
it may not even be desirable. The world has undergone a change and
we have to be a part of that changed system. The past offers no
is very important to recognise that we are living through a period
where definitions of cultures, societies, sovereignty, nationality
themselves are changing very rapidly and radically. All these issues
have gone through a large number of transformations and sometimes
with the end of the political bi-polarity, an equally important set
of factors has been the pressures and opportunities of globalisation.
Technological innovations in communications and
transportation, and in particular the movement of capital across
borders, have circumvented or eroded traditional state sovereignty
not only in the conduct of international finance and trade, but
increasingly in their own domestic affairs. This is a crucial fact
that will have to be borne in mind for any future dispensation that
we might conceive for Jammu and Kashmir.
vacuum left behind after the Cold War, coupled with the vagaries of
globalisation, has created serious external strains on the
traditional nation-state apparatus, particularly in the developing
Many developing states that were already weakened or failing
due to a variety of internal factors, will be under greater pressure
now. All this will lead to newer and more relevant definitions of
I think that the seeds of a solution lie in using the logic of this
change that is spearheaded by globalisation to evolve a framework
for new political dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir, which will
resolve the issue on a long-term basis. In this context, our first
move has to be to look for and create a much larger common economic
space in the sub-continent and beyond. We can, for instance, look
for a SAARC economic space where we can have a free movement of
factors of production like labour and capital; have greater market
relations and indeed, have a single currency, a consistent and
congruous monetary and fiscal policy, and uniform trade policy.
the dominant analytic in the global order is economic power and
economic interests override all other kinds of interest. With
binding and self propelling economic interests, political disputes
will automatically become less intense, frozen positions will get
surely thawed, and all economic relations will bring us to being
just one step away from political resolutions.
we are thinking along these lines at a time when in the Islamic
world, there is an extraordinarily energetic debate taking place
from Morocco to Indonesia as to what Islam is, what it can be
interpreted as, and where it might be going. This is routinely
overlooked in the West, where a traditional Orientalism maintains
its hegemony and overrides the dynamic of cultures and the diversity
of what is within them. All this will have a bearing on how the
masses in Kashmir react to a solution; how they see the road ahead
and how actively they further it. It is no longer correct to say
that globally Islam is in the grip of a wave of unyielding
fundamentalism: this is very far from the truth. There are serious
movements of self-assessments taking place within Islam.
I think it is of utmost importance to recognise the inter-generation
dimension of the problem. We are now well into the third generation
of the problem. The first generation, which was involved in the
freedom movement, did not accept a division of Kashmir on the basis
of religion but the divide across secular lines – hindus versus
muslims -- did become a part of the mental makeup.
second generation witnessed the 1965 war between India and Pakistan
and the East Pakistan crisis in 1971, responded differently mentally
and a majority of them developed animosity, mistrust and suspicion
towards each other. Using nationalistic perspectives, this
generation was not prepared to maintain friendly relations with each
historical memories recede, the third generation, which belongs to
the age group of 30s or slightly more, is not emotionally swayed as
the earlier generations. The third generation did not witness any
large-scale war between India and Pakistan. Emotional detachment
helped them to rise above psychological barriers and be more
forward-looking and future oriented.
Stephen Cohen puts it, “A Third Generation is now emerging…the
third generation does not have a sense of responsibility for the
gloomy history. Their competence and their interest in the things
that matter—above all a fresh approach to economic issues, plus
the collapse of many institutions dominated by a generation in the
past—will bring them to power sooner rather than later. More than
any other development in the region, this new group of regional
leaders will make it possible for a change to occur.
generational shift in the politics of Kashmir is near completion
now. It is a process that is well and truly entrenched.
Look around and you will find that every major political
group in the wide spectrum of the state has its leader who is in
his/her 40s or even less. Molvi Umar Farooq, Sajjad and Bilal Lone,
Omar Abdullah, Yasin Malik and Shabbir Shah and of course, the
leader of my party, Mehbooba Mufti.
see such a confluence of young blood and brains across all shades of
the political spectrum is rare indeed. Not many places in the world
can claim to have its top political leadership in their late
twenties and early thirties. I can’t think of any place especially
in the age obsessed politics of the subcontinent, which even comes
anywhere close. That of all the places in the world, this should
happen in Kashmir -- the oldest and the most intractable problem in
the world – not only augurs well but makes the static state of
affairs not only interestingly significant but also pregnant with
possibilities. A breakthrough is more than a mere possibility when
the excess baggage of the past is not a hindrance.
the new generation bring about the minimization of the ethnic,
class, regional, and ideological distinctions that have –
independently and collectively – a major bearing on the core of
the Kashmir issue? Or will it heighten these tensions? While a view
of the broad political culture appears to have been passed from one
generation to the next, will the most salient issues shift along
with a change in the agents of politicisation?
One hopes not. However, what one does hope that there is a
complete break from the past in the manner in which the issue is
conceptualised, the politics conducted, and the conviction
communicated. For what my generation has done is to let the issue
fester. We are guilty and shall be deemed so in the court of history
unless we act and act fast.
there will be an attitudinal change: the young populations the world
over is increasingly connected to international culture through new
means of mass communication; slow economic development and limited
political opportunities threaten governmental legitimacy all over
the globe; moves toward democratization are taking place at many
understand these disparate and inter-connected dynamics and initiate
action what the new leadership, irrespective of their political
affiliations and goals, needs to do is to combine comparative
politics and political economy with the emerging international
political order and strategic analysis.
have we achieved? First, we have shown that political fundamentalism
was the face of frustration; frustration because of the lack of
dialogue. It was not the norm, but the exception to the historically
known mental make up of kashmiris.
the first year of governance, we did not focus our attention so much
on changing the political systems, but we tried to change the
structures in which political, civil and economic life is conducted.
Our attention went to the major responsibilities of state which is
provision of public goods and provide (at a minimum) the
infrastructure to allow for economic activity.
is a part of the overall resolution strategy of mine, because I do
believe that complex political emergencies are not only to be found
in the issues around which conflicts are politicised, such as
ethnicity or regional identity, but also in the prior trend towards
a failure of governance.
In fact, it is often this prior failure of governance that is
the causal factor in the politicisation of ethnic identity issues.
So we have tried to focus on these, less glamorous issues of
conflict resolution, in the first year.
must be recognised that it is for the first time in the troubled
history of our state, the state government is not in an adversarial
role while talks are being conducted with the separatist groups.
Indeed, we are the facilitators and see this as a major achievement
of our one-year in power.
believe that we have met our first objective: of being a means for
effective articulation of political, social and economic aspirations
of Kashmiris. The illegitimate symbiotic relationship with the
State, its repressive arms and the civil bureaucracy, which had
imparted a strand of authoritarianism to the governance in J&K,
has been substantially broken and it is this that has allowed us to
pursue a meaningful non-violent agenda.
we have stopped the marginalisation of moderates in the political
spectrum of Kashmir. It cannot be denied that this has to a large
extent, been possible because of a change in the attitudes and
policies of the Government of India. The grim visage of a central
authority determined to use coercion over an increasingly alienated
people was the source of this marginalisation. This has decisively
undergone a change for the better.
are now at the threshold of the third step. Empowering the
legitimate democratic institutions of the state to the extent that
they are not played around with anymore by anyone. For instance, if
the current or future legislatures of the State that have been
democratically elected make recommendations that are within the
purview of the Constitution of the State and the Country, it is
obligatory on part of the Centre to treat it with more respect than
has been done in the past.
is not required not only as a generic principle to be followed with
all sub-national government but more for the specific reasons of
Jammu and Kashmir which is a sui generis case in itself because of
the circumstances of its accession, its own ethno-national
composition, and its distinct position in the Indian federal set up.
If this not done, it will tell the kashmiris that there are no
"redressal mechanism" available to them from within the
the past, this feeling has gone on to strengthen what all the
extremists have been saying and what has been the raison d'etre of
militancy. And in the process strikes at the root of moderate
political viewpoint. Thus Aazadi
became a more attractive alternative and option once the forum
for internal redressal were made ineffective.
shows the change in this attitude more clearly than the recent state
election. Instead of bringing in the Kashmir issue, raking up the
dead and buried, raising the ante on Pakistan, the entire campaign
was quite the contrary. We warmed up to Pakistan, we focussed on
progress not on parochialism and discussed development and initiated
dialogue. Nothing can be more heartening than that. As we sit here
in the middle of a Delhi winter, I smell a spring in the political
climate of the sub-continent. The blossoms are not far.
And as you all know, the blossoms in Kashmir are the best in
from the text of the speech made by J&K CM at 2-day
seminar on Peace Dividend – Progress for India and South Asia
Delhi on December 12, 2003