Sunday, May 5, 2013

Kashmir's International Context

The ground reaction right now in Kashmir is that leadership inside the territory has not been  successful in giving a launchpad towards a productive conflict discourse internationally. Many expatriates in the past have been working to raise the issue like the Mirpuri diaspora and some Kashmiri expatriates from Indian administered Kashmir are working for an ontogeny of Kashmir's resolution.

The reasons can be many. The most important which we can think is the lack of co-ordination between the Kashmiri people all over the world who are of the opinion that Kashmir's resolution is still a pending issue.

While many leaders in Kashmir would argue about their successful political stunts, the reality still remains that there seems to be a hesitancy to make a political progress because geo-strategical politics in the region have not been stable for a while. Pakistan is in a transition right now. They are banking on representative democracy and army co-ordination to emancipate as a stable country. While Kashmir has always been an underlying issue, the preferential cause for the national state actors in Pakistan right now is a stable political state.

India right now, being the world's largest democracy is in a dilemma. The country has faced corruption scandals in the previous government tenures. The masses want to decide between Hindu vote and Secular vote. These things should concern the political class in Kashmir, whether in India or Pakistan. For how long Kashmiri people should wait for a conductive political climate to happen? Infact, why aren't leaders letting it happen? This waiting game should not be taken as a political advantage, but as a reminder of immoral bankruptcies.

Kashmiri masses have never been given a significant opportunity to represent their aspirations at the international stage. Regional politics has resulted as a  political drama where our governance actors bank on politics as an entrepreneurial venture to stay in power, rather than acting as a mediator towards the resolution process. Is their a career motive behind their actions? With such a turmoil history in Kashmir, there simply seems to be no scope in intellectual respectability towards the States which divided Kashmir into two halves.

Our well read social class, outside the spheres of columnists and speakers at various forums, have shown no collective responsibility towards the grave human rights record and political failures registered on our soil.

For an optimistic progression in terms of Kashmir's International Context, we need a change of heart from politicians (who should value the attested revolutions through massive public outrages by perpetual anarchies in the past as moral reminders for a solution). The exempla who sit in Senates, who pass laws on us, should come out of their egos and should increase the competence to take us out of the pawns of injustice.

Kashmiri people dont deserve politicians who have a happy knack of twisting our fate for votes and who show a blood lust for our future generations.

Politicians who make false promises to masses make more martyrs who will just be heart fully commiserated for few days.  We, infact, need sincere pacifiers, who can mediate at the central level, internationally and can represent our genuine participation - who can accommodate rightful ideas, amalgamate intellectualism and leadership to increase competitiveness. 

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rethinking Kashmiri Leadership

Kashmir has seen a proliferation of conflict, yet responsible leadership is not yet understood by many of the leaders representing us. Rather, the so called ‘electoral leaders’ are trying to project Kashmir, through their manufactured representative democracy, from a ‘conflict state’ to a ‘post conflict state.’ The rationality given towards this exercise is the relevance of economic prosperity replacing the genuine political aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

The requisite for the transition of Kashmir from a ‘conflict state’ to a ‘post conflict state’ requires immense reconciliation. Not just through realising justice, but also achieving the practical means to do so. For the Kashmiri leadership at the electoral level, the path of political accommodation through encompassing the mutual conciliation around competing political views and interests will help in minimising the conflict dynamics of the region. For this to happen, experience and competence in measuring the equity of true political representation and their decision making influence is of crucial importance.

Kashmiri leadership at the electoral level needs to understand the moral maxims, the cogent evidence of Kashmir in a conflict state – the historic political developments that still have a persuasive relevance today, which include:  secessionist organisations, the amount of time spent by activists in seminars, the literature produced, the barbarisms of militia, the human rights violations, the street protests recorded on media, the sacrifices of youth through blood, the corroborating evidence of arson against the Indian State, the diaspora who represent our nationalist stakes at the international level, the UN resolutions, and the amount of online dissent registered on the internet. All these objective realities make Kashmir still monumental to a conflict.

We, as Kashmiris, should pursue knowledge and proper decision making in deciding the people who lead us. Meritocracy is highly relevant to Kashmir because of the nature of our political ethos. If perceived talent is not demonstrated by leaders who demonstrate particular achievement as postulated by Micheal Young, then a failure of a democratic system rests both on the masses as well as the leaders representing them.

Historically, the electoral leadership in Kashmir has been based on elitism - a doctrine that divides people in the name of democracy. Our place is one of the worst examples of power elitism where power is centred in institutions for the leaders to enjoy. Decisions on political conundrums are not made on a genuine consensus through debate extensions, but rather on a domination, which is a struggle between haves and have nots. Our representative politicians encourage powerlessness for the deprived masses, when we talk of conflict dynamics perceived in our region. There is not even an encouragement on certain doctrines which these mainstream political parties in Kashmir have in common. Rather, these elites try to compete amongst themselves to achieve an even wider voting base for the enjoyment of power. Therefore, the conflict stays at status quo. Why should separation be taught when there is a greater scope in pluralism?

The doctrine of pluralism for regional strengthening is pivotal in reaching a coherent compromise between the leaders representing the country at the international level. American political scientist, Thomas Dye recurs: “pluralists judge society not by its actual equality but by its equality of political opportunity.” This indicates the important role of politics in the society. He further postulates that a society is dominated not by single elite but rather by a multiplicity of relatively smaller groups, some of which are well organised and funded. Therefore, the scholar likely hints a link between responsible leadership, the need for commonality, mollification and political ethics.

Politics of pluralism in Kashmir carries importance because its credos rest upon ‘the group theory of democracy’ visa viz ‘the pluralist theory.’ Under this epistemology, power is divided, no group is dominant and the scope to bargain remains intact. Importantly, the government acts as a referee to this process. There is also an underlying consensus between the general political ideals and goals of the society. Therefore, the importance of civil liberties and the goal of equal opportunity for all stakeholders’ likely results in a successful transformation of a society riddled in monolithic conflict structures.

In Kashmir as well, the representative democracy rests upon the decisions made by few people. We haven’t seen any genuine rapprochement between various stakeholders in our local political spectrums. Rather, pluralism which truly defines the democratic nature of politics by reaching a compromise on certain issues is not pursued by our local leaders. For a Dutch thinker like Arend Lijphart, “the politics of accommodation fits perfectly within the context of pluralist theory.” Lijphart uses the term ‘consociational democracy’ to refer to a political system characterised by the politics of accommodation. His work on building this theory guarantees group representation especially in conflict divided societies. Therefore, the various stakeholders in the Kashmiri society should influence governmental decisions, and our administration shouldn’t suppress their actions. That’s what true Libertarianism is. Why should we rely on failures through the functioning of democratic models ruling us?

Yehia Eliezer from Hebrew University of Jerusalem further postulates: ‘the process of accommodation in politics should be served by abandoning the principle of unilateral decision making, and a decision should reflect a balance between divergent approaches and interests.” Therefore, for Kashmir, pacification through realisation and conciliating various socio-political problems from the grass root level will uphold a moral success in terms of a conflict resolution.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kashmir's Media Bias

Also published on ViewPoint, Rising Kashmir

When people are pervaded with a political conflict, we see its fulfillment through the emergence of a systematic propaganda - we have the Indian State that has monopolised power to control the sentiment of masses in a place like Kashmir. As media watchers, our public or journalists should know that that there is some kind of official sponsorship in censorship reigning at top Indian news channels, on issues that ignite the sentiment which the Indian State wants to periodically challenge through oppressive means.

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent (1994) state that there is an elite domination of the media and marginalisation of dissidents, that make these media outlets realise that they ‘function and interpret the news objectively’ and on the basis of ‘professional news value.’ The radio and TV companies all require government control. There are even political ties in media policies - this trait is bias for dissenters who are devoted to some sort of substantial sentiment not reported through these media outlets. When we relate this to Kashmir, we need to realise that the premises of discourse on Indian media channels is chalked on nationalism. The moderatorship coming through these channels roots out the sentiment of conflict resolutions through time constraints and broadcast objectives. The Indian public is not concerned on our issues, which has in turn paved the way for hostility towards the State ruling us, because they are either ignorant of our history or they are least concerned with our grievances.

Academics of media relate its functioning measured by prestige, resources and outreach, comprised of somewhere between ten and twenty four systems. The maturing of cable TV and satellite television has resulted in enormous increase of television audiences. This has insured that media focuses more intensively on profitability. They have lost their limited autonomy to banks, corporates to whom they solicit as ‘white knights’ (Propaganda Model, Manufacturing Consent, pg.8). So isn’t there a bias in media functions? Why isn’t there a need for documentaries, free-lance reports and personal online interviews broadcasted through social media, for a place like Kashmir? The place doesn't have its own news channel, of international appeal, that can continuously generate public awareness - it is an idealistic thought as long as Kashmir doesn't develop infrastructure. How will the investments come when we continue to live in a landlocked place guarded by military of two great strategic nations, and at the same time,want to emancipate our own desires? We are in a dilemma through waywardness in our political leadership. Nothing can help us until we escape from it. Indians and Pakistanis need to seriously help this nation uprooted by an environment of coercion.

Kashmir has an unusual image in Indian media - which is stubbornly obstructive and unwilling to cooperate. It is obstinate and not ubiquitous in search for truth in a place like Kashmir, which is a like a melancholic diary waiting to be opened. Why should our sacrifices be forgotten? Our commentators on Indian media are quelled in contrary dispositions through disorganised and angry debates, signifying an elite consensus between the State and the news makers. The debate on Kashmir has lost its space on Indian forums, in times like today, because there is no concern or stake in addressing our political desires. Kashmiri opinion makers and syndicated columnists on Indian forums are dissected by their structures which shape the facets of our news. The voices from Pakistan have constructive criticisms for conflict resolutions, but a co-operative debate rarely happens, and its adherence is not taken by the political leadership. Kashmiri leadership is already fragmented into governance and stakeholders of secessionism and moderate nationalism. Therefore, media should generate a consensus between intellectuals and leadership at the central level in both the countries.

In Kashmir, media functions simply to serve domestic power interests. The place has witnessed same propaganda campaigns as witnessed in other countries if we dive into history: Trade unions in Poland had their rights violated and Reagan administration in 1981 took it as a noble cause. Reports of worthy abuses have not become news even in times of world war when Truman- McCarthy Red Scare permanently helped to inaugurate the cold war and war economy. The chronic focus on the plight of Soviet dissidents, on enemy killings in Cambodia, the American invasion of Vietnam and so on. The killings that have happened in Kashmir, over the years, remind me of brutal murders done by Salvadoran army, which I watched in real footages in a John Pilger documentary – systematic abuse through tyranny by the State by containing a popular sentiment through pure force.

The Indian media, rather attributing to the cause of the abuses through the process of long awaited justice is buying time for its implementation. Why is this stance taken when there should be an elevated sense of responsibility? Does this mean that the Indian State should continue acting like a deranged political machine in times to come as well? If politicians, sickened with bias, don’t even consider international argumentations by debaters and leaders who demonstrate some sort of proposals, then what is the way to go?

I want to go back to the propaganda model as mentioned by Chomsky and Herman in Manufacturing Consent. The book draws a distinction between image of media and reality: ‘freedom of expression must be defended in instrumental terms, by virtue of its contribution to some higher good; rather, it is a value in itself.’ Therefore, there needs to be a meaningful control of public opinion through institutionalising their pertaining ideas. It should inculcate and defend the social, political and economic agendas of groups rather than sidelining them. Media needs to be vigilant and mindful of their mistakes. Kashmir in Indian forums needs to be taken seriously, and delay tactics have already ruined our conflict resolution. I want to conclude with a tweet done by a popular  tweeter, Shehla Rashid on 9th January, 2013: “When young people ask for talks, they’re sidelined. When they revolt, they’re killed. When they write, they are labeled seditious.”

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir