When Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India said on Thursday that the peace process between the two countries has been suspended, he only confirmed New Delhi’s intransigence once again. Despite hundreds of rounds of talks between the rivals during the last seven decades over the Kashmir dispute the status quo has not changed, nor have the relations between the two nuclear-armed nations improved in any substantial manner. Talks have been held for the sake of talking. Nothing has changed, except that Kashmiri people have been condemned to live under unacceptable conditions in their home, which has been transformed into the world’s most militarised zone, some have also described it as the world’s most dangerous nuclear flash-point.
“Let’s be realistic. It is the J&K dispute that is the root cause of mutual distrust and other bilateral issues…It is high time to break the carapace of complacency and dispense with self-serving approaches,” the High Commissioner, Abdul Basit said. It is not that the world’s leadership, or what is euphemistically called the international community, cannot see through the carapace. But the world leaders, as much as the UN, choose to ignore the plight of Kashmiri people as it has become impossible for them to give up benefits from the Indian economy in the new world economic order. Not that much attention was paid to the world’s most intractable dispute even in the earlier political order. However, inside Kashmir, curtains are slowly lifting as its people constantly defeat deception and misrepresentation of their condition. The potential for pro-India political parties to use the fact that Kashmiris participate in regular elections under the presence of half a million Indian troops to manufacture political capital is slowly but surely reaching saturation. The history of NC’s autonomy politics is well known. But now, the PDP’s clever harvesting of the Kashmiri peoples need for relief from militarised conditions also stands exposed. Misrepresenting the Kashmir sentiment has rendered the PDP’s ‘self-rule’ slogan a hoax.
In the face of the failures of India and Pakistan, UN and the world leadership to deliver to Kashmiris their inalienable right, it is the Kashmiri people themselves who must make themselves count. It may not be possible for them to be so important an economic entity to matter in world affairs, but freeing themselves from economic dependence on India could yield the power to force a process of demilitarising their homeland. And that should be the Kashmiri test for a genuine leadership, one that can drive the processes of demilitarisation and a transitory economy of self-reliance.