By Bisma Ashraf Zargar
The Kashmir conflict is one of the most staggering conflicts in international politics, and its persistence involving two nuclear powers is well known. Though the parties involved in the conflict have their own perspectives regarding the cause and course of conflict, almost all agree (at least in declarations and statements) that the region is in dire need of peace as well as substantial economic development. Indeed, a decade of violence is on verge of ending without any positive achievement for the people. Due to the ongoing peace process, however, the atmosphere appears conducive for the launch of sustainable development initiatives in the conflict-ridden state. Kashmir, once known for its mesmerizing beauty, peace and tolerance in the world, has now been seen as a bloody conflict zone, since 1989. Over the years, numbers of Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s) were taken by India and Pakistan, but all the initiatives failed to bring long-term peace in the region. Conflicts whether for a smaller or a bigger cause, whether it aims to serve economic or political interest, before they could achieve their goal, they disrupt the normal way of life. And in Kashmir , this long term dispute has resulted in economic deprivation, loss of better education system and an almost zero pace of developments and other undesirable consequences.
According to official data, about 47 thousand people have died during the conflict since the last two decades in Kashmir; however Human Rights groups put the number more than one hundred thousand. At the same time, around ten thousand people have gone missing, thousands of women have been raped and tortured, yet the conflict is still there; unresolved taking lives of innocent people. Over the years, numbers of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) were taken by India and Pakistan, but all the initiatives fail to bring long-term peace in the region. In the meantime, the Kashmiri movement went again back to its Non-violent mode since August 2008, which created the opportunity for India and Pakistan to solve this conflict, once for all.
The state government must take steps to protect the status of Kashmir by reaching to Kashmiri people including all age groups, mainly youth to understand their sentiments, feelings. As we all know, pen is mightier than the sword so government should try to make better environment by reaching to our youths to understand their demands and should try to involve youth in government affairsby creating a sustainable environment so that youth can utilize their own skills by setting up small industrial units which will boost the economy of Kashmir.
India has been always trying to use management strategy to solve the conflict in Kashmir. It is using military power to crush the people of Kashmir, or applying the colonial masters (Britain‘s) strategy of divide and rule. In the last five years, there has been a resurgence of street protests. Some of the protesters, most of them young, have resorted to throwing stones at security forces, which have on many occasions retaliated with gunfire using live rounds. Despite this apparent shift in the nature of opposition to the Indian state, there does not appear to be a change in the approach of the J&K authorities. The PSA has become precisely such a “lawless law”, largely supplanting the regular criminal justice system in J&K. Many of the people detained under the PSA without charge or trial for periods of two years or more may have committed no recognizably criminal offence at all. Strikes, curfews, protests, and other actions have hindered education and economic development. Corruption remains unchecked. The money that could have been spent on research and development and toward the betterment of education has gone to corrupt government officials. Kashmiris have been denied an accountable government, which has affected the educational arena greatly. Increased funding to the military has deprived the educational sector. What should have been spent on R&D is spent on warfare.
Draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) and Disturbed Area Act (DAA), conferring special powers on the security forces, need to be repealed or modified in order to be more humane. The illegal use of power must be curbed, if not discontinued. This calls for an immediate reduction of AFPSA and DDA to save the educational sector from a lack of psychological resilience, which has hindered the creativity of academia and has also increased its stress. A number of institutions endowed with academic excellence have also become targets of warring factions in Kashmir. Kashmir has become a heavily militarized zone. The deployment of troops in educational institutions prohibits them from achieving an excellent educational platform and this in turn has a drastic effect on education as a whole. Witnessing rapes or sexual mutilations, killings, threats to life and dignity, loss of family members, custodial killings, disappearances, and all sorts of human rights violations have become routine in Kashmir and the people are caught in a cycle of unending violence. The worsening situation in Kashmir has not spared the teaching community, which is caught in the crossfire. Conflicts in the valley have resulted in the destruction of educational infrastructure, deterrence of students from attending classes, and a lower priority on allocation of funds for educational organizations.
The talent and intellect of the Kashmiris, which was once at its zenith and possessed by rge majority, us now at the verge of extinction if things go on as they are now. Proper use of intellectual capability can help in the creation of new solutions for human needs, especially in a war zone like Kashmir. No government until now has been able to build a serious platform for the Kashmir issue. The visible impression of injustice is turning the situation in Kashmir from bad to worse. Kashmir is a political problem that needs to be tackled in a political way. The tremendous blow to the educational system in Kashmir can only be corrected by peace. A unified message of peace, based on indigenous interests, can shun violence, and in Kashmir ,paradise lost can be regained.
—The author is an M.Sc Food Science and Technology. She can be reached at: [email protected]