By Kashi N Pandita
Dynamic societies shape and move with the times; static ones remain beleaguered. In the aftermath of devastating floods, particularly in Kashmir valley, things should move beyond relief and rehabilitation.
Relief will soon arrive in plenty and over the passage of time. The Prime Minister’s appeal to the nation to come to the help of the people of the State has generated massive response. The PM assures that funds will be no constraint for rebuilding Kashmir.
I will begin on a philosophical note. Scriptures say when a nation is overtaken by evil, God Almighty hurls down His wrath on them. There is patent and self-explaining evil that has befallen the people of Kashmir in last few decades. They have been striking at the very branch that provides them delicious fruit to eat. They have sold their soul to Mephistopheles; the Frankenstein looks at them with eyeball to eyeball stance.
They are told to paint the picture of their friends, supporters, saviours and rescuers in dark color of senseless hostility and hatred. To the devil, they have surrendered their faculty of reason, balance and equanimity. The fossilized Kashmiri “nation” has imposed deepening conflict and contradiction on itself. Myopia has made reality and truth invisible to them.
These are the evils to which they have surrendered their souls. Is their current tragedy in anyway different from Noah’s deluge? God had hurled wrath on the community of Loot.
This apart, hundreds of thousands of marooned people in the valley not only need relief and rehabilitation to resume normal life but also psychological re-acclimatization. Both are closely linked. Hence there arises the need for changing discourse.
Defunct State administration and the take-over by the army for the massive humanitarian task of rescue (by army, air force and navy), has marginalized all anti India forces. This has been a bolt of surprise for external mentors of indoctrinated Kashmiris.
Astute statesmanship of the PM during catastrophic event, and his commitment that funds will not be any constraint in reconstruction of Kashmir must perforce change in the discourse on Kashmir. This is practical integration of the State with the Union of India a thousand times. Therefore the shallow discourse on “accession not integration” has to change to deep commitment for development and progress and to one-nation theory in regard to Kashmir.
The Army’s role in resurrecting Kashmir from debris demolishes the bottom of all false and fabricated stories and canards which Kashmiris pleasantly indulge in on somebody’s behest, and, of course, without conviction. This discourse must change.
There is yet another reason to justify change of discourse. The Home Minister categorically stated that it is the constitutional, moral and human duty of the State of India to support the people of Kashmir in their hour of tragedy. Today the economic might of India has made a guarantee to the revival and well being of Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore the discourse on the elusive theme of “accession not integration” must change
Enemies of the people of Kashmir will try their best to incite them to anti-national protests and slogans. This cannot deter the union government from pursuing a policy of outright support. In fact, the anti-India demonstrations and slogans actually purport that greater help and assistance should come from Indian State. Hence there is positive element in such slogans.
The discourse of separation that had begun on 8-9 August 1953 has caused enormous tragedy to Kashmir. Alienation of Kashmiris was cemented by rigged elections of 1986 and the way in which the opposition was pilloried. This is what Pakistan exploited to the hilt.
Nearly three decades down the line, all stakeholders have learned shocking lessons. These have to be translated into practice because they become catalysts to change the discourse. What are the lessons?
Pakistan has learned that even the much liked proxy war has not yielded desired results. Ironically, terror has boomeranged and now her own existence is under question. General Zia must be counting in his grave the number of cuts that home grown terror inflicts on the body of Pakistan day in and day out.
Kashmiris have learned that lack of visionary leadership grounded in historical realities on the one hand, and blind subjugation to extraneous forces working for self aggrandizement on the other, have resulted in wanton destruction of a whole generation of their youth with redemption still elusive.
Indian authorities have learned that consigning Kashmir as the fiefdom to its stooges and henchmen has brought them defamation and disrespect and they have done great disservice to the Indian nation as a whole. Dynastic rule is poison for democracy.
If there is a realization with the stakeholders that they must wriggle out of a frozen and fossilized mindset and take a new line of action, one that will usher in a new dawn in Kashmir, a dawn of peace, prosperity and development. At the same time, persistence with the old mindset and sticking like a leech to the status quo will wash away significant contours of Kashmir identity, leaving it opaque and indiscreet.
Playing the religious card for political purpose is the sign of doom of a society. Interestingly, it is the ruling cliques and parties that are past masters in politicizing religion in Kashmir and polarizing its society. They have encaged the Allah behind the bars of scriptural canon. The worshipped cries for “azaadi” more than the worshipper.
The simplest and most reasoned message that should flow from the dissenting leadership to the warring legions at this point when the fate of Kashmir hangs in balance is this: shun violence, change into peace brigades and work with all nationalist forces to build new Kashmir that transcends religion, region and class.
We know this is galling to the dissident leadership. It is like eating the humble pie. But the fact is that the wrath of nature is unforgiving. The Kashmiri “nation” is standing on the crossroads of progress and destruction. It has to make the choice.
All that we can do is to remind them that they should be alert against the Dajjal (Antichrist) roaming imperceptibly and arresting their souls irrevocably.
It is for Kashmiris to decide whether they look to al-Hind to receive the breezes of freedom, dignity and progress, as did the Holy Prophet, or to one already mired in ignominy and catastrophe.