Peace may have been restored but Kashmir is far from being a normal state
It is not over and the worst is yet to come. The peace that has returned in JK state, particularly in the valley of Kashmir, after paying too great a price has lost its sheen as maladies come to our knowledge. Today, it is not the explosive 90s when crossing the twin bridges in city’s nerve, Lal Chowk, was a feat and without accidents or misfortunes of some kind. Guns have stopped rattling, there are no crossfire, encounters, grenade attacks, crackdown or parades. However, there is no peace either. Loss of life on such immense scale as in tens of thousands has become a measuring scale. Few deaths, whether in recurring road accidents or regular fallouts of political nature, does not evoke too much criticism, anger. Few hartal calls and curfewed days make people forget the miseries instantly. So how bad is it or it has been? – there is no single readymade unanimous answer. That is the worst thing to happen in the state – the uncertainty about almost all affairs, political, economic or of social character. In this uncertainty people of Kashmir have left it to fate, hoping that one day real peace would return.
In any conflict, political, as has been observed so far in different regions the worst hit are institutions. In most cases, education is the first casualty. What is surprising in case of conflict and its after-effects in Jammu and Kashmir, education has largely survived, except in few cases. Creches and pre-schools, tuition centers, schools, colleges, universities – they are mushrooming and the number of educated has significantly increased. Today, a good number of people of the state have academic degrees and training in their hands. But does it mean or be interpreted as return of normalcy? What militancy didn’t strike, political inefficiency in the state has. The educated have increased but their education remains an investment gone wrong. Jobless and desperate, the educated are slowly becoming disillusioned. A year ago the debate as why a different class of “educated militants” was emerging was initiated and left to wane. The story would have been different if militants would have blown up a school, a small institution, to dictate their terms. When it is large scale failure, those responsible would not even be questioned.
The acceptable and approved state executives in the form of politicians of the class mainstream often in their precise verbatim pull out a list of accomplishments – which we all put under the base word development. One of the greatest nonsense or nuisance in a state where we have people of both know and wisdom is to take credits for anything supposed to be done. Beginning with the what we mean by the government, most have mislaid ideas and are often misguided. The government is a body of select people among the whole population who are given the job and responsibility of governance. It is not a charity work and the politicians do nothing with their own purse or for free. It is always the public money, from which the politicians (ministers, legislators) too are paid their due salaries. There is a bifurcation in the sense political leaders are viewed – good politician bad politician – with roots in larger ideology and smaller achievements while in power and serving public. A good politician may have ideology that most people in the state would approve but may put a very poor performance. Such sides add up. Worst politician may be the one whose beliefs and values may be at poles to that of the people, in addition to corruption and opportunism.
Whether it is governance for the complete cycle of six years or issues of saving lives of people from occasional but repeating hazards, the performance of political leaders of mainstream class does not outshine that of their predecessors.
In Pakistan, which some people given an opportunity would rather like to call a failed state, the issue of civil protection against military might has been a serious concern recently. The state has been in tandem to forge a benefitting civilian-military relationship. In J&K state, which obviously is not a failed state, the civilian-military relationship is the worst case scenario. The two seem to be on opposite ends of peace and reconciliation. From this perspective what kind of state would J&K qualify for?
The question as whether the elected mainstream leaders that come to power through the approved system of elections are suitable for the job is never raised within the six years. Every government formed in J&K is likely to continue all six years, as once elected all their acts and actions are not subject to scrutiny. Their positions are fixed till they are votes again to power. Policies are not how politicians rate either themselves or their rivals but deals and conspiracies against the people of Kashmir. Winning is achieved by simply proving that the other is more villainous.
The regular work of ministers and their aide of bureaucrats who have to keep them happy and in good faith is a closed subject. They do what they can or may and no one is supposed to point or raise a finger. They would chair women empowerment programmes and abuse women in their chambers. They would talk about beautifying the city and let the concrete business entities be erected overnight. Courts would intervene with litigations. They would seal half the city, only to take matter some time later and change the law. Or they would go with demolitions and make more money as the same houses and buildings are erected once again.
Are these are linked to the political conflict that has rendered such opaqueness and arbitrariness in the entire system of popular governance? In insurgency, security is the primary concern, but the conditions that exist today with the approved and elected government, what worse can be expected. The peace meaning abatement of violence has been restored but J&K is far from being a normal state.
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