The Clashmir Valley.

This post argues that the Congress’ lack of vision and crony politics has repeatedly got us to the brink in the valley and that it is time to ignore the destructive self-obsession of the Kashmiris and the pompous responses of the Nehru-Gandhis, and attack the problem instead of the people.

The unraveling of the Kashmir situation is now being presented as a textbook case of how to shoot your self in the foot. But the analogy being drawn by most commentators is too rudimentary to merit attention. The more evolved answer would be to recognize a rhythmic tempo of planned intervention by a troika of forces inimical to the nation’s interests, however predictable this may sound. So, what’s new? Is it the stones? Or is it the activists – pubescent and petulant? The army of opinion on this issue belies simple home truths. A cursory look will make anyone see that there is nothing here which is more than meets the eye. It is simply time to demystify the exotic problem of Kashmir.  

Governance as a Mom and Pop store. And how moderates queer the pitch for peace.

At a seminar organized by the Delhi BJP recently to draw attention to the worsening situation in Kashmir, Arun Jaitley leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha warned that seekers of autonomy for J&K were merely indulging in a ploy to set the terms for their next and final solution – effective separation from the state of India. At the same event I commented, perhaps uncharitably, that Kashmir was too important an issue to be outsourced to family friends and their kids. Successive events have bolstered my argument and it is now common agreement that governance under the present CM has skidded out of control, in tandem with the situation. But that is not the real reason why we have the problem in the first place. The stultified mulch that Kashmir has become over the years of keeping it hanging in balance is fertile ground for one or the other creative nuisance that we are seeing from time to time, fronted by an army of small men with even smaller ideas.

But it is not as if the Government has helped. The wishy-washy leadership that the PM has so far offered is finally turning out to be true to character – running around like headless chicken, now the chickens have come home to roost. The Cabinet Committee on Security [CCS] seems more and more like an afterthought, brought into action after waiting for the situation to erupt into a full fledged fiasco. The dithering on steps required to be taken, the AFSPA or No AFSPA question has us in thrall while the so-called moderates flog the issue for what it is worth. The hawks, so to say, are at least more consistent and concise. Their refusal to deal with the Indian position outside the terms of independence and outside the terms of civil behaviour is a reassuring certainty. It is the moderates, in my opinion, who are doing maximum damage to the cause of peace and its progress. Their existence is wrongly purported to mean that there is an India line they allow for, or that they hold a more middling opinion whereas in fact they only push the Government of India into an extreme position as counterweights to the pro-Pakistan line. So in effect, India is the other extremist, while Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and his ilk are moderates – reasonable people who only want azadi. Look how we have fallen for the gambit.

All extremists are equal. Some are more equal than others. Behold the formation of Kashmiristan.

On the side of the Indian establishment, there has been a one-eyed approach that bewilders practitioners of state craft, and of military and police action all at once. Notice the contrast in the manner the state continues to handle the demands of the Kashmiris against the challenge that the Punjab militancy threw up. Compare the treatment that Bhindrawale and his posse of followers received, with the kid gloves treatment that the Government of India reserves for pink-cheeked Kashmiri separatists. It begs the question:  What should you be doing with Geelani and his cousins? Why the difference? What’s the problem? For those who are appalled by the suggestion or whose instincts lie with the perpetrators of long term crimes, I have news on reasonably good authority that about 70 Shia families have also been eased out of the valley over the last few years. This has been done in a more insidious manner than was employed while dislocating Kashmiri Hindus and it is now a matter of examination in some quarters to establish the exact truth of this new, if predictable, development. For in this act, it would fit the pattern of Islamisation of the territory of Kashmir in the style of the Taliban and their Pakistani cousins. The objectives of Al Qaieda are being implemented with adroitness and the complicity of those who publicly decry violence and terrorism.

Package Tour. And Rahul for CM.

Contrary to the image of a flowering valley of plenty and produce, the talk of a package for Kashmir conjures up thoughts of first-aid kits and famine conditions. The knee-jerk flash back to when-in-doubt-offer-a-package doctrine for Kashmir has not only pauperized the state’s morals, it has also hollowed out a people’s self respect completely. That the National Conference leadership have been the middlemen of most of such packages is now a marker of history and the package being touted is now under the guise of autonomy. But we can do better if the NC offers itself to repair and stands down in favour of a Congress Government in the state and let another young man with new ideas take over the leadership of the state. I am sure he would be only too glad to tackle the real problems of the country instead of heli-hopping from one well designed trouble spot to another in search of an enduring problem he could solve. Meanwhile, the UPA leader’s gravitas at the recent all party meet was ingenuous and puerile at the very least. She now wants to understand what it is that angers youth in the valley. Or why there is hate. Existential questions indeed. Fortunately, there will be no reference to Sartre and Sigmund Freud, them being deceased for long. But there might be need to go to Kashmir to feel the pain of these lovely boys. It speaks volumes of the moribundity of their ideas that the UPA leadership has to seek recourse to all-party meets every time the issue becomes a hot potato. The typical indications in the denouement of this saga can be gleaned from the fact that the day after an article appears in a national daily by a professor, the Government toes his exact suggestion – word for word, step for step and presto!, an all party trip to Kashmir fructifies. There is no problem if this were to be a solution; but there is a problem if public discourse starts leading policy in the absence of a strategy. The Government is closing in on a clutch of soothsayers and that is always a dangerous signal of a shortage of ideas.

Azadi. What we have, is what we want.  And hello China.

Seekers of Azadi have had to explain nothing to their constituencies and it remains one of the most unaccounted-for concepts in modern times. Some time back at an interaction organized for children from the Kashmir valley, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Ms. Sushma Swaraj had asked a young student who was arguing for azadi to explain what he meant by it. The student, I am told, was unable to go beyond the original plaint. Ms. Swaraj put the point across well. How much more freedom can you want after a special constitution for yourself ? Exactly. All those who are now seeking to legitimize the behaviour of the scores of stone pelters by sympathizing with their professed angst for a vacuous freedom are themselves at loggerheads with both reality and realism. The perpetrators and their sordid leadership is even worse than juvenile to think that an azaanic cry from the mosques of Lal Chowk will validate what is in fact, an open invitation to the Chinese.

The failure of the Kashmiris to acknowledge the fundamental outlines of the geopolitical pressure building up in its north is the stuff of legend. Myopic and self-obsessed, the Kashmiri leaders have only exhibited their traditional inability to visualize even two steps ahead, seeing how Chinese influence is occupying critical space in Nepal, Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka. The recent deployment of Chinese troops in Gilgit and Baltistan has also not been able to make anyone in Kashmir – or the Congress – see the outlines of the next map they print. The asinine Kashmiri leadership – or whatever there is of it – thinks that independence from India will grant them a sovereignty even their forefathers had the sense to understand would never hold with China breathing down their Phirans. But it will take more than depending on the frail Kashmiri intellect to expect them to understand the perils of contemplating azadi. In the meantime let them understand that all the azadi they will ever have is with India. Without, there is none. Unless they are keen to serve as shoe shiners in Chinese house holds.


A shorter version of his post has appeared under a different headline in The Pioneer of 18th September, 2010.

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2 Responses to “The Clashmir Valley.”
  1. kanwal dhar says:

    Dear Sanjay
    Hi. Congrats for being appointed a spokesperson for BJP.
    You deserved this post.
    Kanwal Dhar

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