Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Month Of Melancholy

(Picture taken from Outlook Magazine)

[Also published on south Indian journal, Counter Currents]

[Also published on The Muslim Institute London]

It has been more than a month’s restriction in Kashmir. I’m writing in the morning, whilst birds chirping that melodic twitter, sedating tranquility. The frogs have stopped croaking. There is a flash of white on the grass. The sky is painted morning blue, and I can feel a cool breeze piercing my window, as I try to jot through my faculty of thinking.

About nineteen natives have been killed since the past month. It included young children and youth. It also included women and men, who were the lynchpins of their family. For us, life would move on, but for their sorrowing families, the struggle has just started. Kashmiri mornings are full of causerie, but will their mornings be peaceful? It would start with a suffocating silence which wouldn’t end till the night. Pain. Misery. Melancholy. Suffering; would be ruling their minds and hearts, and it won’t cleanse away easily.

Who knows how many times, those grievers would have cornered themselves, in that acute misery, murmuring sobs, hoping that their lost ones would return, but dead never return. They never come back. It’s hard to regain their presence. Not in this life, at-least. May God help them.

As days go by, the script of Kashmir’s misery reads like this – A school kid becomes a corpse, is one of the youngest tenants of the martyr’s graveyard. A woman, muttering through her window, observing a violent protest, down her alley, catches death with a haplessly fired canister. A youth goes to shop bakery, gets chased for life, a bullet pierces his flesh in front of his family, with a buzzing hiss. Protests gather momentum, bloodbath makes more kills. Mass media is banished to dump the truth. Pallbearers are assaulted for being pallbearers. Flag marches remind us of fascism in an unpolished democracy. Lowly compensations are granted to accept a dreadful fate. Is this a fair script for us? It has resulted in an ugly unrest with wailing mothers and hungry kids deprived of their mothers.
People stone-pelt due to deep anger and frustration. It's not an organised strategy. After throwing each lump of stone, they don't feel helpless. Their anger and frustrations should be resolved, and it shouldn't be glorified by these leaders, to avoid causalities of death, for the sake of peace and an effective resolution.

People have died on streets and their bodies have fallen, yet again. Still, the most common contradiction spread by Indian media is that the conflict economics is the root of the dispute. Economic stagnation can never substitute the cost of human rights abuse. Human dignity values much more than that. It’s victor in comparison. No Kashmiri would believe that economic packages would heal the suffering of Kashmiris. That would be further punitive. Kashmiris fight for identity. We want a long lasting political solution. Peace can be given by giving social justice and not by giving economic justice.

A phased dialogue, involving leaders, from all strands of political thought, is the need of the hour to restore peace in Kashmir. I do agree, its not right to emancipate any kind of violence, including stone pelting, but one has to resolve to adjudicate their anger & frustration, so that they wont feel relieved after throwing every lump of stone. Also, hapless leadership of National Conference is a party to their choler, because they have failed to address the grievances of the people, by not reaching out to them.

Indian influence came to Kashmir in phased stages, annexed by historic designs of National Conference. Right from independent Kashmir, to greater autonomy, to full exercise of the Indian constitution. All things which cant be morally justified, are ought to be not justified. Demilitarization, even giving 'greater or regional autonomy', to Kashmiris, will kick start the resolution. The concept of autonomy is rooted in Indian constitution. However, I believe, its not the final solution by any means, but it will surely initiate the resolution.

Very recently, there have been noises coming from New Delhi governing chambers, regarding the dilution of AFSPA, the most draconian law unleashed by the Indian Parliament, functional in Kashmir and in the North-East. This much hated law allows military personnels to kill with impunity, without any fear of a court trial - which if initiated, needs to have a permission from the central government to debrief or declare the offenders guilty. That's the reason, countless cases have been left unresolved. It has also been vexedly refuted by top human right protectionist bodies. I hope these noises become constructive, without getting adulterated with competing claims and political differences.

Hartaals and curfews are self-erosive and they will yield absolutely nothing, till some constructive efforts by the separatist main-stream, are initiated, with the support of New Delhi, Indian civil society & Kashmiri local administration; Pakistan also has a critical role to play.

The basic basis of our struggle are rooted in liberty and sovereignty of our land. People who believe in this, belong from different strata of our society, with different approaches to the struggle; our ways of protests would be different, but the right of self-determination is critical for emancipating our struggle, and this is the most kernel thought, completely valid and acceptable, under international norms. This natural association will always bind the leaders, people of our land together, for that cherished dream of freedom. It will serve as a tribute to all Kashmiris who died for Kashmir, whatever their ideology was, and a long lasting peace, perhaps, would be the biggest tribute to them.

That's why people should propose their hard-earned learning curves towards the future and enter collectively into a process of visionary introspection i.e to bring out an evolutionary model for an independent Kashmir.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Solution is possible

[Also Published on Oped, Greater Kashmir, 3rd July, 2010]

At University of Oxford , the conflict resolution is described as, “nothing is resolvable and nothing is irresolvable.” Yet, the fatalities in Kashmir are fast reaching a six digit figure. Yet the levels of fatalities do not seem to stimulate a genuine peace process for both hostile neighbors. The history of Kashmir has not facilitated a resolution in the past and given the situation, is unlikely going to do so in future as well.

Without signing the ‘written affidavit’ of allegiance to both countries, no political institution is allowed to represent the aspirations of the people, which has been already eroded time and time again, due to lack of genuine representation. The present spatial attributes of resolution are clear- a relationship should continue to be based on centralized power structures from New Delhi and Islamabad. The current arrangement directly or indirectly predetermines the accession to Pakistan and India respectively. Several international independent analysts and agencies have stated that elections have never been held freely. At the same time, there have been no international amendments in practicality to bar these ‘ rig vote’ practices. Unlawful arrests, draconian laws, life-threatening emergency powers of Disturbed Area Act (DAA), Special Armed Forces Protection Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir and all versions of torture continue as natural laws. How do we expect a resolution possible or Kashmir to develop, when the conditions created are hostile for safety by both India and Pakistan? Humanitarian bodies like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International are already concerned about these levels of vehement violence and unethical draconian laws that have effected thousands of Kashmiri lives.

Endorsement of legal powers in accord with international conventions which safeguard rights-liberties and redistribute attributes of sovereignty is needed through genuine evolution from political actors of both countries. Post 1996, the ‘Azaadi sentiment’ has acquired a major role in ensconcing the dispute for the process of accommodation. But the biggest hindrance faced by the people is that the leaders have succeeded in evolving a ‘trait of flexibility’ for the fear of getting irrelevant. This has unfortunately created an environment of mistrust and social fragmentation.

The concept of ‘Azaadi’ should address Indian stands, Pakistani stands as well as Kashmiri stands through a tri-partisan solution by balancing the political, legal and social persuasions of the people. ‘Internal sovereignty’ is more important than concepts of autonomy and self rule. This is the main reason why many attempts regarding implementation of prevailing ideas have failed. An accomplishable resolution can be implemented through enabling an environment of phased demilitarization, revocation of all draconian laws, developing new prototype political structures, ceasefire between armed groups and Indian armed forces within the region, engagement of domestic armed groups in dialogue process and shared economic integration. Sadly, the State of India and Pakistan, both, have failed to genuinely address the issue so far because they have been provided a ‘liberty of multiple interpretations’.

The only substitute for dialogue is violence. Every day when these leaders delay talks, violence continues. The best method in decreasing level of violence is through peaceful negotiations. It is a long term concept for establishing peace. However, there have been no hints of an international intervention-their role has been resisted to mere spectators. Violence has badly dented the very essence of ‘Azaadi’ by hijacking our social domain. Leaders are slaves to the prevailing sentiment and have crossed all ideological extremes to facilitate an invalid democratic establishment. This is a harsh reality. Massive human rights violations have worsened the situation – even further.

There are lessons to learn for India and Pakistan. World has seen civilized means of resolution. Very recent of which has been ‘ The Good Friday Agreement’ which was designed in sound British political machinery where genuine negotiations replaced guns to resolve a political conflict over self determination. This arrangement ended a violent war between the British and the Irish and a resolution model like this could result as a success for Kashmir’s resolution.There have been various attempts by both countries to isolate Kashmiris in pursuit of a resolution which is unlikely going to succeed. There should be a joint solution which needs to be institutionalized.

Developed leaders from both sides unfortunately have been prisoners of their own rhetoric. There has been no genuine civilized interaction between the two countries. Wars have been fought, negotiations have been carried out, pacts have been signed, an armed movement is still on and yet a decisive outcome is still elusive.

In Kashmir, there is only one concept of genuine leadership. The concept which relies heavily on the right of self determination. It should be implemented according to the Articles drafted in [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [ICESCR]

India & Pakistan could try to resist practices which suit their interests, design a valid democratic process rather than installing leaders directly. The most unfortunate part is that there is no evidence that India and Pakistan have followed any pattern or implementing stage worth emulating in resolving the dispute. because starting a resolution and then ending up with a blame game, signing irrelevant pacts and empty talks cannot ultimately yield anything.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir