What after Kashmir?


Once I read that when Jinnah was informed about the death of his arch rival Gandhi, to everyone’s surprise, he was very said and from that very day he lost his will to be politically active. Soon after, he died of TB, having lost the purpose of living, the quest of his life, the furnace of his political energy. It sounds strange but very often, the life and the world is sustained by binaries, ironies, contradictions and opposites, just like in Hindu philosophy the world is sustained by the interaction between the opposites of Prakriti and Purush.

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Imagine what happens after the Kashmir imbroglio ends in a mutually agreed political solution which is a win-win situation for all the three major stakeholders i.e. India, Pakistan and Kashmir.  In the first glance, the said scenario might sound quixotic, dreamy, and fool -hardy at worst and a wishful flight of innocent imagination at best. However, it isn’t as unreal as it sounds, and I realized this when I found Atal Ji and Musharraf meeting at Agra, and when Musharraf came out with his four-point agenda to resolve Kashmir. It seems that if Vajpayee je had stayed in power in 2006-07, both of them would have almost clinched a political solution for Kashmir. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen and UPA under Manmohan squandered away the goodwill which NDA and Musharraf had generated for a peaceful solution. But when, again after a hiatus of eight years following 26/11, when Modi visited Pakistan and was received by the same Prime Minister who received Vajpayee Ji, then once again it feels that Kashmir could be resolved in the near or not-so-distant future. It does not look like a mere coincidence but, rather a well-designed cosmic plan to put a hardliner BJP PM and Nawaj Sharif once again in the saddle and chart out a political solution.

But, the question which arises is that what happens after all the territorial disputes like Kashmir, Tulbul, Woolar, Siyachin and Sir Creek are resolved with Pakistan and there remains no reason to fight a war or instigate cross-border terrorism with the help of non-state actors. This article attempts to imagine the nature of Indo-Pak relations, the state of Pakistan and the state of Kashmir, in the scenario or rather a cold political vacuum which emerges after Kashmir.

To begin with, I would like to mention that in such a scenario, the perpetual threat of a nuclear war between the two arch-rivals would have vanished and it will be the greatest respite for all the peace lovers and humanity in general. In India’s case, it can be stated in clear and categorical terms that anti-Pakistan rhetoric/narrative has never been the main constitutive segment of the idea of India. The perception of Pakistan as the primary enemy has never been the main guiding force of state-building in India. Hence, for India it will just be like another political victory cum settlement just like the end of insurgency in Punjab. Since independence, India has faced numerous separatist insurgencies but fortunately they have never been able to undermine the idea of India or threaten the territorial integrity. They have been seen as political conflicts to be solved under the over-arching umbrella of Indian democracy. Hence, the end of Kashmir dispute will be a welcoming development resulting in de-militarization of Kashmir. But once again, it needs to be stated clearly that lately China has emerged as principal focus of India’s foreign and defense policy, hence our nuclear program and military build-up is fashioned by the China factor.

This, in a superficial glance would imply more resources for economic development. It would also imply the absence of anti-Pakistan rhetoric in elections and the increasing disutility of communal politics which might lead BJP to rely more on the economic development plank without the fears dictated by the compulsions of democracy, for any electoral victory. It will take time to develop mutual trust and goodwill because the bloody and violent baggage of the past will continue to haunt the minds of Indians. Indians still are not able to digest Pakistan’s role in IC-814 hijacking and a series of bomb blasts which took place in Jaipur, Ajmer and other cities. The episode of Mumbai attacks has generated a general disdain for Pakistan among the common Indians, which was previously not as intense as it has been after the Mumbai attacks. Hence, even after the resolution of Kashmir, the mutual distrust and grudges will continue to prick the relations between the two neighbors with a troubled past. This discomfort will be reflected in the visa policies and other mutual interactions and in regional multilateral forums like SAARC, though we could see a higher level of cooperation in multilateral forums like UN. However, the trade and cultural exchanges will increase and no doubt, the visa regime will be much more liberal than what it was. Because of the fact that people-to-people exchanges will be easier, their role is likely to becoming prominent in generating good will and diffusing tensions. Lastly, Chinese proximity to Pakistan will always be a matter of concern or rather a nagging irritant between the two countries.

As regards Pakistan, it would be much more complicated and a challenging task to explore what happens to Pak state and society after Kashmir. Pakistan since its inception is born out of an anti-India and anti-Hindu narrative. The entire process of state building has basically thrived on the false and fabricated perception of India being a threat to Pakistan’s territorial integrity, and cultural and religious identity. This perception defined the state-building in myriad ways. The paramount role of army, Islamization, specifically Wahhabization of Pakistan during General Zia’s reign, cultivation of Afghanistan as a “strategic corridor”, doctrine of giving thousand cuts to India (Gen. Zia), promotion of Urdu and emphasis on Arab origins of the Muslims of Pakistan, at the expense of the regional and everything ethnic i.e. culture, music, language and customs like Punjabi and Sufism, which the Muslims shared with the Hindus of the sub-continent, and the nurturing of non-state Islamic terrorist groups to promote state interests, domestic and foreign both, is all the outcome of anti-India and anti-Hindu mindset which has dominated the policy discourse, academic institutions and intellectuals of Pakistan. Hence, even if Kashmir is resolved, the Pakistan will be left with a heavily radicalized and Islamized society nurtured on false, and living in the state of denial, which supports Salmaan Taseer, declares Shias and Ahmadiays as wajib-Ul-Qatl and refuses to accept the fact of genocide committed by Pakistani army in Bangladesh. Pakistan will be left with brutal non-state actors like Lashkar-E-Jhangvi,  Difa-E-Pak council, Jaish -E-Muhammad, Sipah-E-Sahaba, Jammat-ud-Dawa etc. with their terrorist leader like Hafiz Saed and Maulana Masood Azahar. They gini has already gone out of control and they are rampantly killings Shias, Ahmadiyas, Christians, Hindus and other minorities. The Frankenstein’s monsters might even go extreme, and with the support of trans-national Islamic organizations like ISIS, wage a militant battle against Pak army itself, for establishing an Islamic state. If that happens, it will spell the doomsday for the entire sub-continent as the huge nuclear arsenal of Pak army might fall into their hands and if they are aided by organizations like ISIS and Afghan Taliban, it might almost be impossible for Pak army to control them. Even, India might not remain aloof to such developments. It could feel the shocks in the form of refugee influx, cross border attacks by non-state actors and even a nuclear threat. In such a scenario, Pakistan might emerge as a battleground where even the world powers like US, Russia and China have stakes. The world powers for the obvious geo-political reasons will support Pakistan army in the war against Jihadis, and the primary concern would be to prevent the nuclear arsenal from falling into Jehadi hands. Even India would not be in the position to stay neutral. India would have to support Pakistani army for protecting its own territory, security and geo-political stakes. Thus it could be argued with sufficient reason that in such a scenario, Pakistan could be the extension of the 9th century war that is going on in the Middle East. This is the reason why Vajpayee Ji was right when he wrote at the Minar-E-Pakistan that a peaceful and stable Pakistan is always in India’s interest.

One another possibility that could be thought of in a post Kashmir scenario is that of the intensification of Baluch resistance abetted by Pakistan’s concession on Kashmir. And, if the scenario of non-state actors waging war against the army with ISIS support emerges, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, then Baluch rebels might want take advantage of such chaos. If that goes to extremes then Pakistan might split into Punjab, Baluchistan, KPK and Kashmir.

Lastly, Pakistan will be left with huge army gobbling up a monstrous budget, with an acute sense of purposelessness and disutility, poorly developed civil society, and a state with extremely fragile democratic foundations, with the immense challenges of poverty, corruption, terrorism, poor infrastructure, feudalism.

Kashmir would be left with the vacuum, hopelessness, loss of morale and also the self-esteem which comes after the years of conflict, bloodshed, violence, and the status of sandwich between the two powerful enemies. When Pandavas went to the Kaurava camp, with Krishna to celebrate the victory in the war which ended with the death of 3.4 million soldiers along with their cousins, then after the initial moments of happiness, they felt a deep sense of remorse, detachment and futility of the war. Kashmiris might feel the same that after all what was the bloody struggle for- to become free which they have almost realized that it is an unrealistic project, to become part of the country which is itself losing its energy and rationale to exist or to become a joint territory of India and Pakistan.  With all the memories of the bloodshed and the migration of Kashmiri Pandits, the valley would never be the same abode of peace, snow and spirituality. The stains of blood will stay for long as a blot on the white snow of Kashmir and the memories of violence would haunt the minds of Kashmiris. But, for sure there will soon be a new generation of Kashmiris which have already seen the positivity emanating from the ongoing democratic process of Kashmir, and that new generation will take the state forward towards economic growth, stability and prosperity. Culturally and religiously, under the joint arrangement system Pakistan might incline towards Pakistan but again that is a remote possibility, because Kashmir and its leaders like Shabbir Shah, Yaseen Malik and the new generation of Kashmir might discover it no later than sooner than the future of Kashmir lies in the Indian model of robust democracy, diversity and economic growth rather than the Pakistani model of sectarian violence, hatred, religious extremism and military dictatorship.

Featured Image Source: Flickr

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