The recent Kashmir uprising, furious speeches at UN, threatening statements by politicians and the subsequent escalation of tensions on ‘Line of Control’, has brought yet another conflict wave with regard to India and Pakistan. The new cycle of tension between the two countries has increased resentment and worry particularly among the masses in Kashmir. Their hopes of peaceful settlement of Kashmir issue and an end to their long sufferings have been shattered once again.
Though a majority of people on both sides may want talks between two nuclear states for the sake of peace, it is now an undisputed fact that all the issues between the two countries (particularly Kashmir issue) have only witnessed emotional handling from both the sides. Indian media and government have particularly surpassed their rivals in such a process. Be it their media, politicians or diplomats etc, emotions do run high when it comes to Pakistan and Kashmir issue. From media to politicians, ministers, diplomats, army and common man, egos and emotions are being preferred over conflict resolution and peace building in this part of the world.
It is worth understanding that emotions are very powerful and can make a person to take extreme steps which have lasting implications. Psychological research findings indicate that our mood or emotions tend to have a significant impact on our decision making and behaviour. Our emotions can also cloud our perception of the world around us. That means any step taken by both Indian and Pakistan while being high on emotions can have devastating impact for the entire sub continent particularly Kashmir.
The culture of emotional provoking and war rhetoric by media, threatening statements by politicians and furious speeches by diplomats and envoys of both the countries need a relook. Arguing about narratives and emotional display can only lead to further polarization between India and Pakistan and may spoil any chance of conflict resolution and peace. Though it is also a fact that emotions are part of human beings and we cannot escape from it but being emotionally intelligent is required in international relations.
It is surprising that when even general masses are wise enough to understand that India and Pakistan should engage in comprehensive and meaningful dialogue to resolve all outstanding issue, are the two governments, their politicians, diplomats and media so foolish to ignore all this? Doubts do arise in the minds of common people about such a situation. Many analysts believe that the present emotional provoking by Indian media and the display of aggression by Indian foreign office and its military is basically part of the bigger game. It is believed that US along with India wants to counter China’s growing power. Efforts are particularly aimed to spoil ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ as the same is considered as a game changer. Analysts believe that with escalation of tension along LOC, US may propose a peace keeping force along LOC. The peace keeping force can actually be a US mission to stop CPEC. If such analysis is believed to be true then needless to say that both the countries are playing in external hands.
One more angle to understand India Pakistan inability to resolve conflicts is that of global arms market. It has been reported that India remains as the world’s largest arms importer accounting for 14% of the global imports in the 2011-2015 time frame. Its biggest suppliers are Russia, the USA, Israel and France. (Source: Stockholm International peace Research Institute). And on the other hand Pakistan too has to compete with India on such a front in order to keep a balance of power. So the supplier of arms to both the countries will always want the conflicts to continue.
People on both the sides need to develop a bird’s vision to see things in international perspective and not just from the narrow tunnel vision. They need to understand that their tax money which should have been utilized for development, eradication of poverty, in the fight against environmental problems and diseases etc is being diverted to arms business.
Psychologically speaking people on both the sides need to show emotional intelligence and prevent themselves from falling trap to media and political propaganda. The ghost of wars is unleashing havoc in Middle-East presently and the same should be prevented from turning towards Asia. Civil society, pressure groups and intellectual class of both the countries should come forward and make it clear to their respective governments that succumbing to egos and emotions cannot make them win over each other or escape from the reality of Kashmir dispute. Politicians on the other hand need to show leadership qualities and should refrain from taking political advantage of escalation of tension between the two countries. Peace building should be the priority of all stake holders rather than war rhetoric, emotional provoking and threatening speeches. Neither integral part nor jugular vein, Kashmir is a humanitarian issue which needs to be resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Imran Khan (M.Phil-Psychology) Presently working in J&K Education Department, Previously worked as ‘Psychologist’ with ‘Action Aid International’, ‘Medicines Sans Frontiers’, ‘J&K Police Drug De-addiction Services’ and as ‘Project Assistant-Capacity Building’ in Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.