Kashmir sans the gun

By K.N. Pandita

When an insider of considerable credibility like Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat is also of the opinion that gun has lost its role in Kashmir for whatever reasons, it is but logical that stakeholders should think beyond today. What next should be the question to initiate new discourse on Kashmir? Inevitably, old mindset and outdated methodology shall have to be replaced with pragmatism because there is a yawning gap between the diehard stand of old guard and inspirational vision of the youth of digital era.   

Former Hurriyat (M) chairman, Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat’s impressions of current situation in Kashmir and contours of emerging scenario in the region expressed to a friend in an informal meeting merit adequate attention. Of late, this ideologue of the APHC has created ripples in the waters of the organization by moving away from the stereotype and seeking to be more honest and realistic than a mere visionary. One finds that by adopting the style of Count Bismarck of 19th century Germany in the process of political discourse, Prof. Bhat has forced a change in the idiom of Hurriyat by speaking the truth. And the truth is bitter — al huqqu murrun says the scripture. He is one who stood out and said that the “killers of our leaders were our own boys”. He is the one among the leadership who said that no solace could be drawn from UN Resolutions as these were not technically implementable: he is the one who said that taking up of the gun was a leap in the dark, and he is the one who admits that the gun is finished and reconstruction should begin. Obviously, ruminating over the realistic and objective course for the movement, he has stirred commotion in the APHC, which jumped at the option of declaring him an outlaw. That is not surprising. His is not the course of confrontation but of rumination. The APHC cannot escape the inevitable.

If APHC begins expanding and extending its political vision to encompass the entire strategic region of South and Central Asia —of which Kashmir is a part–it will come to realise the compulsion of wriggling out of local quayside, and dovetailing its course of action to the dynamics of regional strategies. The APHC will not afford to be ostrich-like and decline to assess where the interests of the masses of people of Pakistan ultimately lie. The struggle in Pakistan is for a democratic, tolerant and modernist society as against exclusivist one. No military dictatorship and no theocratic obscurantism will prove strong enough to stonewall the force of history determined to bring in new social-political phenomenon in that country. Therefore Prof. Bhat’s vision of many angularities attached to Kashmir question getting ironed out in the process is just factual and irrefutable logic. His apprehension of threat from over-arching political and strategic interests of big regional and international powers to the unique identity of Kashmir leading to its Balkanization is neither unrealistic nor far-fetched. This makes Bhat put the awkward question to Islamabad to define where its ultimate interests lie. He would not venture to ask the question if its ramifications did not affect Kashmir drastically. In simpler language, he wants Pakistan to determine her position vis-a-vis the discreet play of national, regional and international forces in the Asian Continent. Should that mystery get unlocked then political punditry might think of out of box prognosis like “force of history” or “arresting Balkanization” or “super-federalism” or “regional arrangement “and “free economic zone” etc. This is what is meant by new perspective of Kashmir question in the backdrop of latest developments in her peripheries.

History has not been very kind and sympathetic to Kashmiris. Protracted subjugation to alien assertion has negatively impacted their psychology and mindset forcing adaptability syndrome on them. While history had offered them in 1947 a rare opportunity of breaking the shackles of servility and changing the cramped mindset so as to inhale for the first time in its millennia old history, the air of freedom, dignity, self determination and self expression as one among the equals in a vast federation of equals, alas her leaders failed her. They could not rise to the expectations of the masses they were leading. Self aggrandizement fostered through parochial and pseudo-secular predilection resulted in blurred vision and then the direction was lost in the haze. People with understanding, as in the category of Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat, rightly feel the baggage of responsibility destiny has thrust on their shoulders. In an hour of trial, one has to stick to one’s hope of bright daybreak.

Understanding and handling of an entity bogged with contradictions in character is by no means an easy job. It is of great importance for federal formation to know, study ad analyse the components gone into the making of such entities as may sufficiently betray involuntary contradictions at the bottom. Susceptibilities like trust deficit, sense of victimization, alienation phenomenon, and acts of trepidation etc. are manifestations of that contradiction. This has to be addressed. That part of service falls to the share of idealist political leadership. Prof. Ghani being one who is deeply involved in public life is obliged to chart out his unique course of action. A casualty of devalued political practice in our times is the courage to speak the truth. Those who are ready to gag the mouth of one who ventures to speak the truth, can gang up and hurl stones at him forgetting that they are living in glass houses. We hope that unveiling the truth will not spark anger and hatred but will stimulate the stakeholders looking for logic and rationality hidden in the folds.

The time has come to bid permanent farewell to the gun and with that also to gun culture in Kashmir. Gun is neither the text nor the appendix of the book of Kashmiriyat. Interludes of aberration are not exclusive to Kashmir history.  But water maintains its level as it flows down over even or uneven ground. Kashmir is a beautiful place, but Kashmir sans guns is what makes it real paradise on earth — firdaus bar ru-e zamin.

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