Brexit: What Does It Mean For Kashmir


SRINAGAR: The British have chosen to quit the European Union (EU). A total of 51.6% of the vote was cast in favour of leaving the EU. Even though Britain and the EU are distant and far off from the horizon of Kashmir and Kashmiris but there will be consequences over the conflict in and over Kashmir. What will be these implications and consequences? KO attempts to tease out an answer to these all important questions.

We will begin with a discursive note on nations, nationalisms and the nation state. Nations and nationalism, as the great scholar of nationalism, Benedict Andersen, posited, were constructs and “imagined communities” emanated from these. The “imagines communities” became grist to the mill of what came to be called nation states. Even though, on account of globalisation, the nation state fit is not as tight as it used to be, but initially the premise for the nation state was a close if not absolute congruence between the state and the nation. Homogeneity was the bedrock of nations and states or nation states. The exclusivity of nation states entailed a certain tension and even conflict between different nation states- sometimes leading to war. (Closer home, India and Pakistan constitute examples of this). But the nation state also became or morphed into an aspiration for those who were colonised by the West. The construct and its reification meant, among other things, freedom for the colonised.

It was in Europe that the exclusivity inherent in the nation state panned out viciously in forms of wars and militarised conflict. However, the Europeans, chastised and worn out after fratricidal wars, chose to disavow the nation state form and consolidate “Europe” into a single, coherent entity. Thus began project EU. It was now believed by many that the nation state form was passé and the new aspiration and ideal would be supra state or regional federations with state sovereignty and the nation state construct collapsing into the vortex of EU-like entities.

But, alas, the Brexit, revalidates the durability and validity of the nation state form.

The question is, despite Kashmir’s distance from these mega events of historical import, will there be implications for us?

Yes. Of course.

First, the distant ideal promoted by some people of a South Asian federation including India and Pakistan (howsoever idealistic and remote) will not take a back slide-conceptually and ideationally. If the EU entity/ model is on the cusp of failure, why should others follow it?

Second, a point is of immediate relevance and salience, is that ethnicity and nationalism and hence self determination will make a comeback. It will be the post Brexit Scottish approach that will determine the character and nature of this revival or recrudescence.  If the Scotts go for another referendum and split from the United Kingdom, it will set a precedent for others. The Basques, Catalans and even Kashmiris might feel emboldened to pursue what they think are their historical claims based on nationalism, ethnicity and perceived or real historical wrongs committed against them. The world’s flash points and conflict zones will perhaps once again get activated. This obviously includes Kashmir. How politics within and without Kashmir denoue and pan will determine the character of dispute resolution. The character of the Indian polity will be crucial and critical here. If the Indian policy becomes Hindutvised and the conflict in and over Kashmir becomes a Hindu-Muslim conflict along the lines of the “Us” versus “Them” binary, then the condition obtaining within and without might deteriorate. 

All in all, the alleged certainties of the post Cold War world have not materialised. World politics and international relations are in flux but the political class across the world is failing the people. This is a dangerous condition. Unless and until the political class across the world gets its house in order, there will be more Brexits and revanchism. The same holds true for Kashmir.

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