Chipping At Clichés

Chief minister Omar Abdullah’s statement the other day about Kashmir’s tourist boom, normalcy and the Kashmir issue is yet another indication of one side willing to break free of clichés and hackneyed interpretations. This regardless of the fact that New Delhi has lost no chance to reverse whatever incremental gains Mr Abdullah may have made with this reversion, even if belated, to realism.  Nevertheless, the other side merely talks of changes in strategies without much to show for it. Motives of the instinct of self-preservation, to which the change in the discourse of political parties within the electoral system was initially attributed, are still valid. But on deeper reflection appear to be so only to a small extent, something true also of the tactical necessity of positioning a party’s outlook in a particular way to avoid stigmas, and align with what may or may not be – to use a much-abused and exploited phrase – the sentiments of the masses. Protagonists have not found it necessary to wear this ostensible change on their sleeves, or, as some are wont to do, hammer it home to the point of weariness. A major player has found it highly conducive to make do with an occasional, if highly publicised, reference to the constitutional nuances of the state’s instrument of accession, and well-timed and carefully-worded remarks that go neither against the grain of banal reality nor are a fundamental affront to stances favoured south of Lakhanpur. Developments in the neighbourhood would seem to indicate the shift to be much more than an expedient for iqtidaar, even if that is a by-product, regardless of rhetoric the course of events may ultimately prove absurd.


It would be safe to assume that this change is not a spur-of-the-moment affair, or an offspring of parthenogenesis, but of dual and consensual parentage prosecuted with deep and extra-long-term considerations. A highly accurate projection seems to have been made of regional developments, giving rise to risky temptations to presume that the latter are regulated and pre-determined rather than random and chaotic events characteristic of irresponsible and opportunistic statecraft. For the time being at least many cherished myths of geo-political prowess have been exploded, and shown up for their severe limitations in the world of the realpolitik which, whether one likes to admit or not, had ironically been the bedrock of  much that was sought to be allegedly achieved in the region. Or may be ‘severe limitations’ is an understatement. The proper phrase would be a dictum immortalised in the celluloid world: that this is a game two can play at. Of course, given the apparent unpredictability of a certain kind of events, it would be pointless and premature to argue whether the tables have been turned, and on whom.

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