Let’s talk Kashmir

By Zohra Javed for TwoCircles.net

Kashmir has been constantly in the news in the past few weeks…not that it was out-of-news at any point in time, but some things that happened there in the recent past have brought it back to “Headlines.”.

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There have been protests, curfew and much heated political activity. In the meantime, talks with Pakistan on Foreign Ministers level were anything but “cordial”. I bring up the talks with Pakistan here because while we in India are convinced beyond doubt that Kashmir is an integral part of India, there are varying views on this issue in Pakistan…and even in some sections in the Valley. Also Pakistan has a part of Kashmir under its wings, which we in India refer to as POK while on the other side of the border it is called Azad Kashmir.

Police …

Sometime back there was a debate on one of the prestigious English news channels where one of the panelists said that since Kashmir is a part of India beyond any confusion, there is no need to discuss it with Pakistan.

Well said. But “beyond confusion” is still a matter of debate.

As the anchor pointed out that if this be so (and if there is no confusion) it must be conveyed to Pakistan in no ambiguous words. This clearly means that India and Pakistan cannot talk of peace in the real sense unless Kashmir dispute comes to an amicable solution. Kashmir is an integral part of India, and Pakistan has to get this fact right. It must be told firmly once and for all.

What is the point in avoiding a discussion on Kashmir?

We now hear of a new kind of protestors, the stone pelters, in the Valley. This is all a result of extreme frustration among the youth who live in complete uncertainity and deep insecurity. The government must come up with enterprising educational and vocational schemes for the youth and take them into confidence by making them feel secure and as much Indian as anyone else. Also there should be a firm resolve to stop giving any special treatment and doling out extra benevolence to the Kashmiris because obviously the intended benefit has not reached the people and hence it has not worked to anybody’s advantage.

… and the protesters. [AIP Photos]

Tourism and handicraft in the state can be immediately revived with a new vigour and enthusiasm involving the youth and in fact making them responsible for formulating policies to improve the conditions. This will most certainly frustrate every anti-social element that seeks to exploit them because obviously then the majority of the state population will not fall prey to their criminal and destructive agenda.

It is not difficult if there is a strong will on the part of government in Delhi to implement a peace process in Kashmir. Elections and all other political activity in an almost war-like zone is nothing but mockery of the system in which we take so much pride. The best way forward is through love and understanding. Kashmiris are Indian first. They have to be taken as such by the rest of the country and by the government at the Center, without making them feel “the other” or “special” in any manner whatsoever.