The entire South Asia has been shadowed by the staggering apprehension of security concerns, cross-border conflicts and poor connectivity. The insubstantial situation of the one of the densely populated region in the world has made it one of the least integrated in the world besides having common bonds across the international borders. India and Pakistan being two nuclear rivals and key states of the region have always been on forefronts since their creation in 1947. Religion has always been a dominant factor in classifying the geo-political trends while evaluating the Indo-Pak relations. Although India claims to maintain her secular traditions but in practice religion was one of the fueling elements that impacted the Indian politics. While Pakistani politicians, on the other hand have consistently failed to identify the common “Political Nomenclature”. Instead of looking for the common bonds to strengthen the democratic character politicians have always preferred to take refuge under the imported umbrella of identification and sadly ignored the true sentiments of the struggling masses. With the new Indian identity after BJP’s government, dimensions of conflicts also shifted from political to more deeply implanted in religious ones. The conflict over Jammu Kashmir has its historical roots in human rights and right of freedom and development. Over the years and decades ruling class of both countries have turned the Kashmir conflict into a religious one and have deliberately ignored the important variables to find the lasting solution of the conflict.
Human history is full of endless struggles and lessons. Among countless lessons in the evolutionary phases, there is one distinctive lesson that can be drawn by going through the pages of hitherto history and it could be summed up as “if the people are to co-exist peacefully and respectfully and advance their life, they must be free of any kind of oppression and enjoying equal standards in rights.” Going deep down the pages of history we also come to know that as long as the mistreatment and exploitation of one class by the other exists and the majority of human race living in a particular region is deprived of fundamental rights and prospects to develop in a free environment without fear; the slogans of democracy, peace and justice are absurd and muted and claptrap assortments. The people of Jammu Kashmir have been going through multi-folded layers of exploitation that has taken its tolls in almost every single family living across LOC in this beautiful Himalayan Country. Major Obstacles in shape of occupation, slavery, exploitation by the ruling elites and imposed socio-economic order have protracted impacts in blocking the road to progress and development. Digging down the layers of history to determine where and what went wrong in the past seven decades definitely would help in advancing towards ending the conflict in a rational way but it needs much more time and efforts to point out every single ring of the chain. Shortly, the ruling class of the region has failed badly time and again to end the conflict in Jammu Kashmir. If the dispute is still going on Kashmiri people should not be held responsible for that rather class based interests of both Indian and Pakistani ruling elite is the major factor that hindered all the efforts in resolving the dispute in sub-continent. Ruling elite of both countries have defaulted on their own promises and pledges with Kashmiri people and International Community. While reading all those dusted pages of political history of South Asia, one common question arises in the minds of Kashmiri people that almost seventy years have passed since sub-continent was divided and we still are not free; and the life of the masses is still sadly crippled by the yokes of exploitation and the shackles of suppression. All the divided parts of Jammu Kashmir have become milk-cows for the local legislative gangs, feeding grounds as pleasant as possible for a horde of the local rogues and the parasites of Kashmir conflict.
Today, the oppressed working class of Jammu Kashmir as well as that of India and Pakistan has been condensed to the animal- mode- of- existence. And even this very existence is warranted only if they remain loyal to the ruling classes. “South Asian Democracy” under the present manipulative and colonial system means nothing other than the process of legitimizing the plunder and subjugation of the oppressed by the oppressor and ‘peace’ means obedience, servitude and quietness of the oppressed. The true peace in the sub-continent and emancipation of masses from the economic and ideological exploitation cannot be achieved until the working class of entire region do not unite against the common enemy, the oppressing class and her instruments. Therefore, the real struggle lies not between the masses across the borders; it is against the ruling class across the region. While it is an undeniable fact that freedom to exercise free will and creating the system of choice is a fundamental right of the people of Jammu Kashmir, it is equally important for the masses of India and Pakistan to understand and recognize that the struggle for the right of self-determination, while local in form, is non-local in content as the conditions of oppression and exploitation of Jammu Kashmir also provide basis for the unending exploitation of the masses across the Indo-Pak borders. The prevailing colonial and bourgeois exploitation must end to safeguard a collective better tomorrow.
The working class of Kashmir being under the direct colonial oppression, on one hand, lacking control on its resources and on the other hand encompassing the essential topographies in common with that of bourgeois society of its oppressors bears the worst form of exploitation. Consequently, the escalating redundancy, grinding poverty, diseases and hunger have stripped off its corona from the majority of masses. The laborers, the peasants and daily wage workers across sub-continent find it difficult to rise above the animal level of existence and it is a distant dream for them. The working class of the region is tumbling gradually into the lowermost strata of society and their insufficient capital does not suffice any more to earn them and their families a desired future. The new generation, in particular students, find themselves in a society that is incapable of adequately providing them a space for their creativity and drive. Quality education that should have been a basic right of all citizens has become a commodity only rich can buy. Rather than serving as a means to overcome inequality, the current crippling education system reinforces it. Furthermore, the lack of proper employment and the opportunities to earn decent living has compelled the young graduates and skillful personals to migrate and find jobs abroad. This ‘brain drain’ is a clear magnitude of the inherent inefficiency of our system. In short, majority of masses do not have access to basic human needs despite their never ending struggle and they are forced to live with heavy burden of life while seeing no hope in near future. Consequently, today our society has reduced to anything but a decent society. The poverty levels in both Pakistan and India are now resting at an identical yet alarming 29.5 per cent level, meaning thereby that every third Pakistani and Indian is literally fighting every hour just to beat hunger and looming starvation.
It is a complete political failure of Indian and Pakistani ruling class. As far as the matter of Kashmiri masses is concerned they tried to do it peacefully in 1947 in accordance with the Indian Independence Act where the princely states were given the right to accede with either newly created nation states or remain independent. The communal mess was created by the neighboring countries that shifted the political struggle into religiously motivated attacks on opposite faiths. The seeds of disharmony were strewed by the ruling elites as well as intelligentsia of neighboring states, who instead of honoring the political wishes of masses in Kashmir betted their strategies on the blood sucking doctrine. This doctrine eventually turned the entire region into a “hate monger’s hell”. Today every passing electronic moment takes so many lives in India and Pakistan due to diseases, poverty, hunger, starvation and above all extremism has become an epidemic on either side of Radcliffe line where the zealots are licensed to , shoot, kill and mass murder any group of people because of their faith. Kashmiris have provided numerous opportunities to both Delhi and Islamabad to work out a negotiated settlement of the crisis but time and again both failed to yield and got wedged into their egoistic stances. This political failure of the ruling elite turned Jammu Kashmir an experimental laboratory where the proxies played even more terrifying cards to keep the K-issue bleeding so the financial pipelines keep on pouring into their accounts.
1988-89 militancy was an entirely different story initiated by one occupier to engage the other and re-employee the laid off militants of Afghan war. After the withdrawal of USSR from Afghanistan, the laid off Jihadies were detoured to Kashmir valley for another holy Jihad. These Jihadis turned the peaceful Vale of Kashmir into another Jerusalem and “sponsored holy war” created a gulf of hate in the valley. Today, in 2016, the newer generation of Jammu Kashmir along both sides of Line of Divide has initiated political resistance against oppression, exploitation and slavery on their own because the newer generation has learned that sponsored movements can never lead to a positive outcome. It is the time when the civil society activists, intellectuals, journalists, lawyers and human rights activists in both countries need to revisit their political wisdom and urge their leadership to come out of their blood thirsty Kashmir policy and accept the realities. A fraction of civil society activists and few of the left wing political parties in India have come with sound support for the just cause of Kashmiri masses. While both the right and left wing political parties of Pakistan still adhere to their outdated state based stance for the ownership of Jammu Kashmir state. Truly speaking, sometimes, it is difficult to draw a line of demarcation between the left and right of Pakistan when it comes to Kashmir issue. Both the left and right of Pakistan depend upon the religious microscope while eying on Kashmir, therefore, both are keeping a “zealously hypocrite” as head of “Kashmir Committee” for almost a decade now.
On the real account while keeping the record straight, Kashmiri masses must understand the fact that the new generation owes a lot to the generations of 47. In 1940’s when the entire sub-continent aligned with ethno-religious divisions, there was only one State that did not become part of ethno-religious divide, rather preferred to stick with political identity. The generations of 1940’s in Jammu Kashmir passed that political duty to newer generations for their political future. Present day political activists need to feel the obligations conferred to them by their wise forefathers. If merging with Pakistan or India were viable options Kashmiris would have done so in 1947 when the entire region opted to do so. If division of Jammu Kashmir were a viable solution the dispute would have been settled in the past seven decades as Jammu Kashmir is divided since 1947-48. The political question that needs more attention is why there is always unrest and dis-satisfaction in all the divided parts of Jammu Kashmir not only among ordinary masses and pro-people political activists but time and again the local rulers also made it clear that both India and Pakistan are treating them as “slaves”. So, what is the remaining option?
The remaining and only viable option can be seen in all the divided parts of Jammu Kashmir, where only one flag is becoming the icon of resistance; i.e. the flag of Azad (Free) Kashmir, a concept of Kisaan Mazdoor Conference in 1946 and explained by Pundit Premnath Bazaz.
Nayyar Niaz Khan is a US based Kashmiri Political activist and freelance journalist. His area of concentration is International Peace and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at [email protected]