Day 24: Impasse and Deadlock in Kashmir


24 days have elapsed since popular militant commander Burhan Wani was killed and Kashmir irrupted.  The people of the vale have wholeheartedly and wholesomely supported the protests and the hartals that ensued since Wani’s killing. If a review were to be undertaken of the past 24 days, what emerges is the state’s mono-focal approach and strategy of containing violence and checking killings.  Through this approach the state appears to be playing an attritive game and hoping that the protests will die down. The separatists, on their part, only want to prolong the protests as much as they can; the programs(calendars) that they give out appear to be aimed at maintaining the focus of people on protests. People, it needs to be said, have been and continue to be supportive till now. All in all then Kashmir is at an impasse and a deadlock defines both the lives of people and the politics of the vale.
In the final analysis, the name of the game is people. Or , in other words, the centre of gravity of the protests is with people. Both sides-the separatists and the state- depend upon people- sustainability and longevity of people’s energies re the protests and what have you. While the state is playing the waiting game, the separatists bank upon the resilience of the people. The situation is so fraught and delicate that no one can foretell with any degree of accuracy how protests 2016 will pan out. However, what appears to be certain than neither side appears to be in a mood to back down. The state, given its resources and command over the coercive apparatii and means of violence, has shown no indication or sign of either initiating a dialogue(at least, publicly); the separatists are also not keen on any form of dialogue.
What would this mean for Kashmir?
Regardless of how protests 2016 will denoue and how long they will last, what can be gleaned with certainty is that alienation and the dominant political narrative and sentiment that obtains in Kashmir will only grow stronger.  And , as KO, has pointed out many times in the past, this sentiment is now trans and inter generational. The implications here are stark and clear. However,  while the well springs of the conflict in and over Kashmir are emotional and are premised on sentiment, conflicts, in the final analysis, are not resolved on the basis of emotion. Sober conflict resolution is predicated upon political calculations and rationality. This may said to constitute the paradox of conflict and conflict resolution; to repeat, while sentiment and emotion determine and are the foundations of conflict but resolution lies in the domain of reason and rationality.
The question now is: what do reason and rationality suggest vis a vis the conflict in and over Kashmir?
Rationality suggests that all sides take a deep breath, so to speak and view the conflict in and over Kashmir dispassionately- sans pride and prejudice and with an open mind. This starting point of conflict resolution could be followed by a paradigm shift in consciousness and probe for approaches and models that are win win and non zero sum. That is, each stakeholder to the conflict should engage each other and be ready for some solution that is satisfying to all.  Admittedly, this is a broad approach to conflict resolution; it is not specific enough. But the point here is to initiate some sort of movement over the conflict in and over Kashmir so that the ball is set rolling. This suggestion is in the nature of what we think is wise counsel to break the impasse in Kashmir and arrive at a solution to the vexing Kashmir issue albeit. We at the KO are sure that at some point in time this will happen but alas our counsel, at this point in time, is in all likelihood to go in vain. Prudent and wise statecraft would aim to hasten this end point to the conflict and bring about a resolution now. But we know this will not happen but prudence and sobriety vis a vis Kashmir has been and continues to be sacrificed at the altar of irrationality, unreason, pride and prejudice. Alas!


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