Mere Symbolism

Mere Symbolism

The US State Department has designated Kashmiri militant leader and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen supreme commander Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) and imposed sanctions on him. The label and the designation come in the wake of Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States and his meeting with Donald Trump. It would appear that the aim and premise of the label is to please India which aspires to denigrate the Kashmir issue and subsume it under the label of terrorism. This is the ostensible premise but scratch deeper and the real reason becomes apparent. India appeared to want to be comprehensive partner of the United States in Counter Terrorism (CT). Decoded, this meant an overt strategy against Pakistan for India. The United States obviously does not want India’s comprehensive partnership given the country’s need for Pakistan even if the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is transactional. But, to keep India in good humor and not upset it, the United States has indulged in what, at best, is symbolism. Labeling Salahuddin will neither make India America’s partner in CT nor would it alter the nature of reality in Kashmir. The conditions that obtain in Kashmir are indigenous and a derivative of structures and processes that define Kashmir. These give birth to a sentiment that has grown more intense over a period of time with Kashmir’s Gen Next’s imagination fired by this sentiment. It may be argued that that the designation is a diplomatic coup for India and that even symbolism matters in the art and craft of diplomacy. It may or may not be so but there are facts on the ground that belie this symbolism. The larger point is what difference would the designation do to these facts on the ground? Nothing is the answer. In essence, what India has done is try to manage the conflict over component or dimension of the dispute while as attempting to contain the conflict in Kashmir dimension. All this can do is freeze the conflict. But, as history demonstrates, freezing conflicts is short term and not durable. And, moreover, international politics is not constant; it changes and mutates under different structuring contexts. Salahuddin’s designation is then a sweetener employed by the United States to sate its aspirations. The sad fact is that by attempting to freeze the conflict, the seeds of more intense recidivism are laid which, in turn, can lead to conflict transformation- that is, the conflict in Kashmir will become more intense. Sobriety and prudence would have suggested that all players and stakeholders to the conflict in and over Kashmir have been taken on board and a long lasting solution to the vexed conflict be found and arrived at. But, alas, short term politicking and diplomatic maneuvering has been preferred over prudence and wisdom.


One Response to "Mere Symbolism"

  1. G. Din   July 3, 2017 at 12:34 am

    “… a long lasting solution to the vexed conflict be found …”
    The obvious conclusion to draw is that it is NOT vexing anyone except a few. That is OK. Not enough to be bothered.


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