SRINAGAR: As day 99 of protests that ensued after popular militant commander, Burhan Wani was killed melds into day 100, the key issue- the conflict in and over Kashmir- remains unresolved. While the state has and is playing the attritive game of wearing down its opponents and by implication turning public opinion against separatists, the separatists appear to want to prolong the protests as much as they can.
This is, insofar, as the conflict in Kashmir is concerned; there is also the conflict over Kashmir dimension wherein there are inter- state dimensions and complexities involved. Our analysis does not endeavour to ascertain “who has won” or determine the denouement of the protests but rather bring into focus the “fact” that there are and there will be no clear winners from the current imbroglio.
Containing the current protests through a game of attrition means is essentially in the nature of a palliative that will put an anodyne balm on the conflict but will leave it to fester. And prolonging it entails hoping that something would break again and capture the imagination and consciousness of Kashmiris again. What undergirds both approaches is a hope and a wish. While hopes and wishes are what keeps us humans going, but, in the final analysis, they do nothing to alter fundamental realities.
The fundamental reality that obtains in Kashmir is that there is a conflict in and over Kashmir. And traditional instruments of statecraft and politics that have been historically and contemporarily employed to deal with the conflict are inadequate and have reached what in economics is called “diminishing returns”. This applies to all stakeholders and players in the conflict in and over Kashmir.
Consider the conflict in Kashmir dimension. It has been sought to be contained or even squelched by engineering a political process in the vale. The problem with this approach is that it is not an organic process but is superimposed on the conflict and the sentiment that feeds the conflict. The consequences are obvious: the repeated cycles and spirals of violence in Kashmir that have a distinct pattern to them. The conflict in Kashmir begets the conflict over Kashmir. Throw in issues of sovereignty, historical grievances and state obduracy into the mix and what we have is a potent conflict that defies facile attempts at containment. The result, to repeat, is recrudescence of conflict in Kashmir with violent over and undertones with protests 201s as one latest manifestation. There is no guarantee that there will not be a repetition of violence in the vale in the future with the same intensity and fervour that defined protests 2016.
While delineation of the nature, pattern and reasons for violence in Kashmir is the easiest bit, what is difficult is the offering a prescription for resolving the imbroglio. The best and brightest minds have grappled with this question but no satisfactory conflict resolution paradigm has yet emerged or in the least crystallized as one that redounds to the benefit of all stakeholders.
While delineation of the nature, pattern and reasons for violence in Kashmir is the easiest bit, what is difficult is the offering a prescription for resolving the imbroglio.
KO in all humility disavows any “recipe” for resolving both the conflict in and over Kashmir and the current impasse. What we will, however, do is caution and plead for prudence and discretion on part of all stakeholders. In specific terms, we will caution against seeing either the conflict or the protest driven impasse as a zero sum game and its denouement as either a win or lose proposition. It is in this approach and humility that a fresh beginning and approach towards resolution of the conflict in and over Kashmir can be made.
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