Illustration courtesy: Mir Suhail
‘Become a nation unto ourselves’ is what the motto should be, not a nation that huddles together when bodies of its young boys fall. It should be a nation that has a common goal, a common aspiration; a nation that sees in itself its own future; that rides the waves and sets itself on a higher path
On February 14, at 3 pm, no one would have thought that something will happen which will catapult two nuclear powers—India and Pakistan—to near war from near peace. Adil Ahmed Dar, the teenage Kashmiri who rammed an explosive packed car into a paramilitary CRPF bus, would have most likely not imagined the consequences of his action. Just how close over 2 billion people and 10,000 years of civilization of South Asia are to total nuclear destruction was illustrated in all its nakedness in the fortnight of madness.
As always, Kashmiris, no doubt, were the most victimised in the latest escalation, even as Kashmir was acutely absent in the larger political and media narrative of India and Pakistan (read cover story). Many were killed by border shelling, a Kashmiri died trying to save pilots from the burning wreckage of a downed helicopter, many more were beaten up by the newly unleashed mob mentality in India against Kashmiris, and many more suffered at the hands of soldiers on the streets of Kashmir valley and Jammu region.
So, where do the people of Kashmir go from here? The way ahead is not the way behind. Thirty years ago, in 1989, Kashmir entered this violent phase of its sad and chequered history. Two generations and thousands of coffins, light and heavy, later, we are caught in a whirlpool. The world has, meanwhile, moved on from 1989. China is a tightly controlled market economy, more dictatorial and authoritarian than Communist, where opponents are hounded and jailed and killed. The USSR doesn’t exist anymore, except in the head of a certain Vladimir Putin. The Eastern European block has come full circle with the birth of nationalist politics deeply rooted in racism. Western Europe barely survives as a unit, with the pressures of migrants and right-wing governments tearing at the edges of the European Union.
Since the heady days of the 1990s, the boundaries of nations have not changed. Any conscious decision by the youth of Kashmir in light of recent developments needs to keep in mind that the international appetite for violent revolution is currently zero. It’s largely thanks to the so-called Arab Spring which disintegrated into a civil war and brought with it medieval thoughts and war strategies, with the ‘liberators’ morphing into a packs of wolves, baying for blood of their subjugated Muslim brethren.
At the moment, the world community does not want to see a Kashmiri uprising and another such nuclear conflagration. In Afghanistan, the imminent return of the Taliban will probably fetch some short-term gains, but it will not be the vassal state that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was from 1996-2001. For our youth, of whom almost 200 took the path of arms in 2018, and of whom almost 200 died in the same year, the time has come to realise that the current world scenario is not in their favour. And, the world will in no way recognise their struggle as akin to a righteous revolution. Wasn’t that the premise when the armed revolution erupted in Kashmir in 1989?
Politics, meanwhile, will be as usual in Kashmir, irrespective of our indifference to it. That’s why it is important for the young generation of Kashmiris to hold the politicians to account. Corruption, mismanagement, nepotism, and administrative laxity—that needs to change for any improvement in conditions for the people of Kashmir to see any positive development in their lives. Kashmiris everywhere also need to hold themselves accountable for themselves and their people. That in itself is a lofty goal, but in it lies the primary goal: survival of Kashmir as a resilient nation, as a society, and as a thought.
‘Become a nation unto ourselves’ is what the motto should be, not a nation that huddles together when bodies of its young boys fall. It should be a nation that has a common goal, a common aspiration; a nation that sees in itself its own future; that rides the waves and sets itself on a higher path.
No outsider can stop us from doing good to each other and from doing good for the nation of Kashmir. Our environment will be with us, irrespective of what colour of passport we will have 10, 20, 50 years from now. So will be our hospitals, our schools, our forests, our roads. There is little to gain from wrecking these assets we have. Let’s protect them. Let’s protect our greatest asset: the youth.
Politics will have its limitations in the current scenario. As luck would have it, no matter what happens, we will be a border state, with three nuclear-armed states in competing military positions. And we will have to live with that harsh reality. It is better we create an enabling environment for the survival of our young generation.
—This editorial appeared in Kashmir Narrator’s April 2019 issue. To subscribe to Narrator’s print edition, mail us here: [email protected], or call at 7298102560