Good Or Bad?

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Remarkably, the loquacious Kashmir leadership has so far resisted prognosticating on the impact here of Barack Obama’s re-election as the president of the United States. One hopes a reality check is at the back of this uncharacteristic restraint from quarters usually given to prompt and prolific pronouncements on all matters and sundry, particularly when they are supposed to touch, or have a bearing, on an indeterminate entity called the Muslim Ummah. In the rather cut-and-dried interpretation of world events subscribed to by the more vocal sections of the leadership, the sum of all evil is massed some five hundred kilometres south of Srinagar, and the rest is the “civilized world,” which occasionally and mysteriously morphs into “imperialist forces” engaged in a conspiracy against Muslim lands and all things Islamic. The repeated appeals directed at the conscience of the “civilized world” notwithstanding, there has to be a standardised denunciation of a gang-up, especially against Kashmir, consisting of a triad cherry-picked from between the Atlantic and the Pacific, the Middle East, and South Asia. While the inclusion of the last two is easily understood, what beats commonsense is the schizophrenic characterisation of the first which doubles at once as the motor of all good and the generator of all bad. It is a matter of some suspense whether the fluctuating fortunes of its reputation in Kashmir are rooted in the fickle nature of strategic interest or the waxing and waning of suspected-but-unproven channels of sustenance.

But first, the case of President Barack Obama, which by no means is singular in the wide oceanic gulf between promise and performance. The president himself may have forgotten what he said, or did not say, in his campaign for the first term, but not so the Kashmiri leadership. Provided he were turned to hear, the leadership – particularly quarters weaving argument, strategy, and legitimacy, wholly around the perceptions of the “international community” – has lost no opportunity in the past four years to remind Mr. Obama of making campaign promises to untangle the Kashmir issue. Poor Mr Obama may have said so in passing, or to momentarily satisfy fund-propping lobbyists (some of whom are famously in jail), but trust the Kashmiri leadership and its global extensions not to seize on the flimsiest of straws to justify itself and its diplomacy. Conveniently, the Kashmiri leadership has forgotten, or chosen to ignore, that other promise – some may say intention or suggestion – Mr Obama had made during his first campaign, bearing unimaginably dire consequences for the entire world. When the first African-American to occupy the White House was not so well-known, and still struggling to make his presence felt on the campaign trail, he had let it be known that bombing the two holiest sites of Islam would be a good idea if Muslim groups continued to target Western interests. So far as banking on the president’s promises goes, why opt for selective amnesia? Just in case the reality check challenge appears restricted, one may recall a US president named Bill Clinton, who too won a second term. Just before he set sail for India, he created euphoria here by declaring to take “a stab” at (resolving) Kashmir – and then proceeded to hand down such a scathing indictment of Pakistan from the precincts of the Indian parliament that Islamabad has not recovered since. But – but the irrepressible Kashmiri leadership, whose appeals to the international community have only grown louder.

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