Kashmir is the age old dispute between India and Pakistan, yet its history and problems are remarkably little known to other than a small group of concerned people. The unitary structure and centralizing ideological belief of the Indian system of blotted democracy gave shape to ethnic separatism in the chronically restive state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir have been overly focused as a zero-sum territorial and map based dispute between India and Pakistan. Throughout ancient times, the breathtakingly beautiful Valley of Kashmir has stood for peaceful contemplation, intellectual advancement, global influential contribution and religious ethnic diversity coexisting in an atmosphere of turbulence and tolerance for the most part. In the modern geopolitical and global terror era, this same diversity, evident from the blend of Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism in this single state, has made it a center of warfare rather than cultural advancement and developmental bedrock. In the late 1980s, an insurgency in the valley threatened not only to rip Kashmir apart, but also pull the rest of the world into a dangerous war.
It is evident that aspirations of independence never disappeared from the Kashmiri consciousness, despite their accession to India in 1947. However, by the 1980s, external factors made poetic dreams of independence seem more realistic than ever before, considering the possibility of having an independent Kashmir Valley as an option, supposed to address the grievances of those who have been fighting against the Indian Government since the insurgency began in 1989. But critics analysis is that, without external assistance, the region would not be economically viable considering the possibility of an Independent Economic Zone of Kashmir.
At present, with possibly up to a million armed men facing each other across the Kashmir border, talk of ending the fighting and of bringing peace to the region seems remote. But the dawn always comes after the darkest period, perhaps there will also be a dawn for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is also crucial to look at the feasibility of the option. Kashmir has a sizable population and enough land and infrastructure to support itself. However, it requires a lot more resources to continue building the necessary framework to be a successful entity, in the purely economic as well as social sense.
In retrospect, India and Pakistan have spent a lot of resources, both in terms of monetary contribution as well as human capital, in trying to resolve or perpetuate the problem. Thus, the proposed solution is much cheaper in comparison to the past willingness to pay in both countries. The costs of the Kashmir conflict are said to be increasingly unbearable for all involved. Over one lakh lives have been lost since the insurgency began in 1989. The governments have spent tens of billions of rupees on feeding and fighting the conflict rather than on alleviating poverty and improving literacy and health programs for the staggering number of poor in all of India and Pakistan. It was basically & ultimately the exhumed external forces and greedy mindframe of these two extremely located countries and in part the spread of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Kashmir Valley that were instrumental in bringing about the insurgency of the late 1980s. Since that time, Kashmir has become overrun by these forces, and yet again the voice of Kashmir has become muffled under a global Islamic agenda. Furthermore, in coming to a long-lasting and sustainable resolution, it is perogative, that the creation of an Independent zone for the inhabitants of valley would be the most effective means of bringing about lasting peace and prosperity in the subcontinent in general and in whole Asia in particular. For that to attain, there is a need to redefine and innovate the freedom struggle movement with our leadership at the helm of affairs require to put their best brains so to carry the movement to it’s logical conclusion, without internal rifts within the organizational setup that only put our efforts & sacrifices in backyard.
Umar Farooq Veeri is Research fellow & Gold Medalist in Biotechnology, working at CSIR, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu (J&K), (+919906778863).