Kashmir encountered its worst floods in the last 60 years, in which the exact toll of disaster still remains to be accounted for. Though the relief operations are still going on, there does not seem to be any coordinated effort on the part of the state government or that at the Centre for easing the magnitude of the disaster that engulfed Indian administered Kashmir and the Pakistan administered Kashmir. Though the mainstream Indian media have reportedly been glorifying the efforts of army and other para military troops in Kashmir but they have completely discredited the efforts of local Kashmiri volunteers whose rules were more instrumental in providing rescue and relief operations to the flood victims in the inundated areas. Besides, very less or no analysis has been done on the direct causal link between this catastrophic disaster and the Kashmir dispute.
It has been 15 years since Kargil War ended and yet there does not seem to be any substantial improvement in the estranged relations between India and Pakistan. Let us take a sneak preview of the last 15 years to see the recurring events and compare them with the fundamental trends. This is an essential exercise, to see where the existential rivalry between India and Pakistan stands today, which has not helped the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in so far as inter-state axis of the issue, is concerned. The so called peace process or the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan has been more of a roller coaster ride, as the obstacles in the peace process have not abated, even till date.
As the elections are underway for a much awaited change of political leadership in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, some of the basic essentials of good governance have not been given much attention or they have been ignored. With the killing of a Sarpanch associated with PDP, the issue of fragile self-governance at local levels in Jammu and Kashmir has again come to fore. This issue cuts right at the core of a larger issue which seeks to devolve more powers to the local authorities which may in turn lead to better development and good governance, free of corruption. But even this seems to be co-opted by the power politics in which various political parties religiously indulge.
The BBC Hard talk with Omar Abdullah was quite intriguing, interesting and definitely elicits some reflection. In the first instance, what caught my attention was that the host, Stephen Sackur attributed the talk to the Prospects for Peace in Kashmir after introducing Mr. Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. So the impression that it gave me in the first place was that there would be an objective analysis of this long standing dispute with its chief minister. I was in fact hoping for it to be one of the milestone talks by Omar Abdullah that would create ripples in India and the world. Another thing that made it interesting was the location of the talk. This talk was held in front of an audience at Delhi. Though everyone told me not to expect much of objectivity from a politician speaking in New Delhi about “Kashmir”, yet I thought I must still watch it and without holding any pre-conceived notions I watched it. Following are some of my observations about the talk, which I thought I could share with everyone.
by Haifa Peerzada
The history of Reorganization of the Indian states clearly shows that the Reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is difficult due to the internal and external exigencies in J&K, which makes it a special case, prevents its reorganization, and history – both recent and past bear testimony to that. Nevertheless its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution of India for its integration into the Indian Union has made things even more complicated. While there is difference in perceptions as far as special status of J&K is concerned, there is national consensus for its fullest integration into the Indian Union.
While some surrendered militants have been accommodated and rehabilitated, majority of them still face difficulties on account of basic structural and institutional problems. Disillusioned by this, there is also a fear of getting thrown back to 1990’s. It is also facilitated as a part of a broader goal of long term settlement of the Kashmir Conflict by India and Pakistan. What will finally lead to the success of this rehabilitation policy and reconciliation?
On December 13th, 2001 there was an attack on the Indian parliament, when five terrorists opened indiscriminate firing killing 9 people and injuring over 15. Afzal Guru, (who hails from Sopore, a city in the Kashmir Valley) was hanged at 8.00 a.m. on February 9th, 2013. This has rightly evoked a debate on death penalty in India, and also puts forth a significant question; is it purely a legal matter or has a significant political dimension to it as well? What is that political dimension and what could be its likely potential fallout? The undesirable yet inevitable reaction of Guru’s hanging in the Kashmir Valley clearly reflects that the political problem attached to the issue is much deeper and deserves a much careful scrutiny, to nip the evil in the bud, which presupposes the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. In contrast to most of the debates and discussions in the mainstream Indian media ever since his hanging became public, it is important not to divert the attention from the main problem and dumbing it down as something insignificant.