The Pathway to Repair the Tapestry That Kashmir Once Was

Given the highly volatile situation in Kashmir, millenials or the Net Generation in the state are unable to employ effective strategies to successfully resolve issues that they are invested in; they lack access to their representatives/ legislators/ decision-makers in order to implement their recommendations; and they lack the space to reflect on their strategies, challenges, the processes of negotiation, dialogue, and accommodation required to reach some kind of fruition.

In the current situation, the local community is unable to exercise any clout and is unable to think constructively about structural change. Politics is an abstract notion for the young people in our state, and not a concrete method to bring about long-term reforms, which younger generations could build on.

Unfortunately, once the government of a federal country and its appendages become centrist and integrationist, they insidiously insert themselves into political structures and organizations in states, which is the reason that the new breed of politicians in J & K no longer feels the need to establish its credibility through ideology, conviction, perseverance, and working for the well-being of their electorate. Instead, they become complacent and rule with carte blanche, which is why electoral politics has been stigmatized.

In politics, the only viable way is forward, not a constant looking back. And policies and methods must be revisited, revised, and readjusted not just by mainstream politicians, but by separatist politicians as well in order to meet today’s needs.

Do we require the resuscitation of a concrete political ideology, which bridges divides, as opposed to the deification of martyrdom in the murky conflictual world of politics in Jammu and Kashmir (J & K)? Has the Government of India been assiduously working to engage young people in Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) in the processes of democracy, to acquire skills and knowledge that would enable them to effectively participate in decision-making and political processes, to recognize the importance of standing up and being counted as well as the value of the vote? Is there a recognition of action civics in the higher echelons of power at the federal and state levels when it comes to facilitating the growth of political processes in Kashmir? Several attempts to deconstruct the political fabric of Kashmir have been made by academics, scholars, and ideologues of various hues, but, it is high time we move beyond social commentary, demythologizing, and decanonizing to the revival of transformative progressive politics. I consider it a lot more significant to facilitate bringing about much needed systemic and structural changes in conflict ridden, politically and socio-economically decrepit polities in South Asia, like J & K. It is important for the civilian population of J & K to engage with the various political organizations, mainstream and separatist, in the State in order to evolve a solution that would facilitate nation-building.

More than mobocracy, kangaroo courts, lynchings, and panaceas, we need a return to the rule of law and the process of internal political dialogue. It is all very well to raise the slogans of self-determination, autonomy, and self-rule, but it is time to think beyond sloganeering about the kind of social and political fabric we want to create for younger generations. Sloganeering that is devoid of a clear blueprint for nation-building remains hollow, and, eventually, becomes defunct. In order to prevent further fragmentation of our social fabric, regional political parties, mainstream as well as separatist, of diverse religious and ideological leanings, must create the pathway to repair the tapestry that Kashmir once was and give the younger generation hope for the future.

There is a large section of the populace of Jammu and Kashmir that is still ecumenical; a large section of the populace that would still veer away from the forces of radicalization or any kind of monocultural identity.

When excesses—military, religious, and/ or political are not curbed, they have terrible long term damaging effects. And when religion and politics are conflated, especially self-determination, that is a problem.

Of course as responsible citizens, we need to hold up a mirror to the state government as well as to the federal government and we can do that more easily because they are accountable to us in a democratic setup, more accountable than militant organizations are—but human right violations on both sides need to be highlighted, need to be showcased.

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Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman, and the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir. Nyla Ali Khan has also served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She can be reached at nylakhan@aol.com.

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