Cause(s) and Manifestations

What causes militancy in Kashmir? If Mehbooba Mufti were asked this question, she has a readymade, reflexive answer: Pakistan.  This is not an inferential or speculative assessment; as a matter of fact, Mehbooba stated precisely this while campaigning for her brother for the upcoming Parliamentary by-polls. Both prima facie and at a deeper level, this assessment or conclusion is wrong. It reduces the causes of militancy in Kashmir to a caricature, pleasing perhaps to powers that be in New Delhi but actually getting both the diagnosis and the causality wrong.  Militancy in Kashmir arises from deep, interrelated causal factors, the salient of which is the conflict in and over Kashmir. The conflict has entered its seventh decade and shows no sign of reasonable resolution. In terms of the historical and ideational contexts, the conflict accrues from the respective self identities of India and Pakistan. Territorial nationalism, in this schema, is central here. This is overlain by the aspirations of the peoples constituting the Kashmiri firmament. Here ethnic nationalism enters into the equation. The conflict then is a clash of territorial nationalisms and ethnic or more accurately religious nationalism. These somewhat abstract forces are undergirded by sovereign forces. Thus, sovereignty or clashes of sovereignty over Kashmir ensue.  All this renders the conflict in a “gray zone” where different forces jostle and jockey for space and primacy. What accrues, by way of this jostling, is that the conflict over Kashmir becomes “frozen” while the conflict in Kashmir remains on the boil. It is perhaps this condition, the “gray zone”, which is the condition of a frozen conflict in terms of outer dimensions of the conflict and the “hot” nature of its inner dimensions that begets militancy in Kashmir. Who or what facilitates militancy is mere corollary or besides the point here. What Kashmir, or more accurately, the people of Kashmir, needs is resolution of the conflict in all its dimensions. This will have implications and consequences on regional peace and stability as well given the centrality of Kashmir. It is to this that powers that be including Mehbooba should devote their energies. Bland and erroneous statements are not only wrong but by getting the causality and attribution wrong merely serve to perpetuate the issue. It is high time that serious auditing in terms of the nature of the conflict in and over Kashmir is taken recourse to and this then followed by a policy and political paradigm that redounds to the benefit of all. Partisan rhetoric can only do harm.