After many decades New Delhi has made a paradigm shift in its Kashmir policy.
The strategic shift –
The new policy serves the dual objectives of dealing with Pakistan by mending the chronic nature of the Kashmir problem by scrapping the controversial Article 370 of the Constitution and resetting the internal parameters of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to keep the political elite of Kashmir Valley at bay.
- One, the fatigue factor in Kashmir is as huge as the alienation and anger among people. Kashmiris are tired of confrontationist politics which takes a heavy toll on the region’s economic and human resources. But the greed of the conflict economy will not let go so soon. This is a huge industry involving many important sections of Kashmir society in addition to the political elite. Their interest in the conflict is their conviction. The truth is that they pursue and propagate separatism. It should be the Government machinery translating the words into action for the transformation of Kashmiri people for the good.
- Another big challenge the Government will face in the coming days is in the absence of the so-called mainstream which shall represent the Indian narrative locally. Here too, New Delhi has to tread cautiously. Since 1990, whenever the mainstream has been discredited or its space has been shrunk, the groundswell is automatically towards the separatist camp. The alternate political platform should not be seen as an alternative to the mainstream camp alone. It should be equidistant to both the mainstream and separatist camps. The need of the hour is to have a political platform in Kashmir that can fiercely and fairly question the legitimacy of separatism.
- The third challenge which New Delhi could eventually face is at the diplomatic level. The statement of the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly asking both India and Pakistan not to change the status quo in the Kashmir regions under their control is likely to resonate in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and some other national or international forums, immaterial of how insignificant these might be. This has more impact on the psyche in Kashmir than it has internationally.
Way forward –
- Kashmir needs outreach, the sooner the better. New Delhi should not be seen responding to the adventures or rather misadventures of the separatist lobby or Pakistan. The engagement should come from New Delhi, leaving the other side wandering and lost for direction. The first step is to translate words into action. Development should take precedence over dialogue. Invest, employment, empowerment should start immediately.
- Administration of the new Union Territory must be seen in action, working tirelessly to provide respite to the common masses. It is correctly said that India lives in its villages; Kashmir lives in its hills. The rural masses should be the target of welfare programs. The urban elites can wait.
Study and understanding of the Kashmir imbroglio has revealed that the conflict is elitist. New Delhi has taken path-breaking decisions, but that is not enough. It is also essential for New Delhi to go against conventional wisdom. Respect and dignity is a basic need of every society. This applies equally to Kashmir. New Delhi and its administration in the new Union Territory must always be conscious of this.
Source – VIF India