History’s Lessons Unheeded

History’s Lessons Unheeded
A meeting of the unified headquarters, chaired by Mehbooba Mufti, has been held to review the deteriorating situation Kashmir. Comprised of top brass of the army, the police, paramilitary, state and central intelligence agencies, the united headquarters is the apex anti-militancy grid in the state.  There is a multi-faceted context to the meeting: the spiral of student protests against the state, the growing and deepening sentiment of rejection in Kashmir, among other things. Whilst a multi-stakeholder dialogue has been ruled out post Mehbooba’s visit, it may be speculated that the nature of the meeting would be devise measures to check and curb the protests and all that these imply. If indeed this be the premise of the meeting, then it amounts to devising balms for conditions that obtain in Kashmir. The conditions that define Kashmir accrue from a multi-faceted set of reasons, the salient of which is the conflict in and over Kashmir. This conflict, in turn, accrues from historical and political reasons. As, the student protests demonstrate, this has captured the imagination of the next generation of Kashmiris. These very facts suggest that there is an underling condition in Kashmir that will always be unyielding and defiant.  Kashmir and its people are at a very delicate phase. Running roughshod over this phase and devising expedient approaches to merely “ deal” with the situation is a mug’s game. Expediency, in the final analysis, leads nowhere, as Kashmir’s modern history eloquently demonstrates. At this delicate hour and moment of Kashmir’s history, what is important and needed is a prudent approach of conflict resolution and statecraft. Broken down, this means , what has been reiterated often here: a multi-stakeholder conflict resolution approach with people of Kashmir central to it. It is this approach that can ultimately redeem all. History is both a cruel task master and perhaps, to paraphrase a famous philosopher, George Santayana, its central feature is that it repeats itself unless lessons are learnt from it. In a way, there is history redux in Kashmir, but no lessons seemed to have been learnt from it. This is as ominous as can be. Instead of attempts at pacification and control, powers that be should steep themselves in history, take heed from it and devise a paradigm leads to peace within and without. This can only mean , at the risk of repetition, a multi-stakeholder approach to Kashmir and the primacy of people.

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