Books and articles of K.N. Pandita

On this sites you will find many articles of Kashi Nath Pandita:

on Kashmir Information

Kashmir Information Network

Kashmir and IDPs

Geopolitical Analysis

History – Past and Present

K.N. Pandita’s Blog

on this site of Vedams Books from India

many articles from this site of the Kashmir Herald

Here after an older article about peace in Kashmir, a peace still not attained:

Creating atmosphere conducive for dialogue towards peace, by K.N. Pandita – This proposition has two aspects: ‘creating conducive atmosphere’ and ‘dialogue’. Creating conducive atmosphere suggests that we don’t have one at present. The question is why?
An important reason is the interplay of external armed intrusion and internal subversion. External intrusion is combated but not fully uprooted because of the gregariousness of the Indian State. We did not strike back when we should have. To hide our criminal inaction, we seek an alibi in Pakistan’s explicit ‘operations’ against us. Where do we find an enemy showering flowers and rose petals not bullets and hand grenades on its adversary?

As for internal subversion, the question is subversion by whom? Identify them. In my opinion, we have (a) committed secessionists and separatists (b) uncommitted secessionists and their sympathisers (c) sections of ambivalent political and administrative cadres. (d) sections of partisan and biased media, and (e) some self- styled human rights activists and their organisations.

The committed secessionists and separatists have taken to arms on the sponsorship of their Pakistani mentors. Misplaced religious fervour provides grist to their war mill. They never indicated a desire to give up arms and talk of peace. That is a decision, which not they but their sponsors alone can make.

Uncommitted secessionists and their sympathisers are standing on the fence. They vacillate with the turn of tide. This section could be vulnerable to promptings for peace and dialogue because their stakes are not high.

Of the sections of political and administrative cadres indulging in internal subversion, the political lot is divisible into two classes: those in power and those out of power. The first category is the last one to share power in larger interests of the State. Therefore, it must hunt with the hound and run with the hare. The second category is eyeing for political power, and must liaison with and publicly speak the language of all such elements as can stand up to the ruling party. They are the frontline group demanding unconditional dialogue with the insurgents. Theirs is not a conviction but sheer political expediency. Their self-aggrandisement speaks more loudly than their pro-militant empathy.

As for ambivalent sections of administrative cadres, they are not essentially committed to the development and progress of the State. A fear of accountability or reprisal of sorts does not deter them. In other words, either they take undue advantage of a humane and democratic political dispensation or consider it their right to subvert as components of the Muslim ruling elite of the valley reclining against a philistine support – structure from within. Moral turpitude of general political community in the country and the state has considerably influenced the shaping of their mindset. A corrupt ruling political leadership should not expect puritanical and pious behaviour from the state functionaries. The ambivalent administrative and bureaucratic lot can be tamed first by an exemplary roll model set by the political leadership, and second by strict enforcement of answerability and accountability as set forth by law and practice.

As for the section of partisan and biased media, the question is whether it is sincere in what it reflects? This is what the people of Kashmir in general and the dissident groups in particular should want to know. We cannot ignore that many eyebrows are raised on the impartiality of press in this country.

Then is the role of self-styled human rights activists. These organizations have mushroomed in the country after the armed insurgency surfaced in Kashmir. They talk of rights not of duties. They talk of the UN Human Rights Charter but ignore the national and state constitution enshrining the will of the people of this land. They take the victimised civilian population as their trust but treat the national security forces as an adversary: to them the might of the state means its total surrender to armed insurgents or unarmed subversives. Yet, of all the people, it is they who know the desk book formula of armed conflicts viz. when gun comes in, human rights depart..

This class has to be tirelessly dragged into procrastinated debates on vital issues like parameters of civil liberty, obligations of the state, constitutional prerogatives, international law, human rights and the code of conduct, trans-border and trans-national terrorism, strength and weaknesses of a pluralistic society etc. This exercise will help create an atmosphere conducive for talks once we are able to eschew bias.

Now we come to the second aspect of the proposition, namely ‘dialogue’. The question is this: dialogue with whom and for what? Let us try to disentangle the mesh into which the entire issue is intertwined.

Talks have to be held with the dissidents. They are (a) externally supported and abetted armed insurgents (b) dissident political leadership oriented along secession from Indian Union, and (c) political opponents to the ruling party. Now law and order falls within the State List. Dialogue should essentially be held between the ruling political party meaning the state government and the agitating groups.

As far as armed insurgents are concerned, they are not acting on their own. Somebody else outside the country decides for them. Offer of talks to them cannot be meaningful.

As far as dissident and secessionist groups are concerned, these have formed into APHC. Essentially, this group is a conglomerate of contradictory ideologies viz. pro-Pakistan, pro-independence, Islamic theocrats, Wahhabis, Osamavis, Azharis and pseudo-secularists of Kashmiriyat brand. Can there be a fruitful talk with this assorted group? And if there is, will that have validity?

Now if any segment of APHC musters courage to come forward for talks, what will be the reaction of their external mentors? Confusing and contradictory statements are emanating from this leadership in regard to talks. The latest is the demand for tripartite talks. This shows lack of self-confidence.

Unfortunately, the APHC does not look beyond its narrow confines. If it could, it would find a compulsion for introspection. History tells us that whenever in the past, Islamic society began to buckle under the imperative of socio-political change, the orthodoxy reacted sharply. Thus the emancipated and liberal thinking in Islam up to the times of Ibn Sina and Ibn Roshd (11th century A.D.) was countered and brought down by the orthodoxy supported by feudal barons and local satraps. When, in the second half of the 20th century after World War II, scientific and technological advancement greatly impacted societies, Islamic orthodoxy came to be activated. We should try to understand the position of Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region, in this historical background.

Apart from this factor, there is also a psychological phenomenon that creates hurdles in our way for a dialogue. It is the buffer psychosis. The entire mountain belt starting from western Burma and extending eastward all over the Himalayas, and then on to the Karakorum, the Hindu Kush, the Badakhshan, the Alborz, and across the Caucasus to the Trans-Caspia, has remained a buffer between the northern and the southern Asiatic plains. From the vast plains lying on the either side of this great watershed, powerful empires and potentates rose and fell in the course of history. In a scenario of long spells of political and economic rivalry between the contending empires and satraps, the people of these mountain slopes and valleys always suffered economic, social and psychological compression. This created the buffer psychosis rendering their self-confidence and personality always shaky and tenuous. Fragile economy and political uncertainty made them a victim of insecurity. Be it the Bhutanese, the Nepalese, the Tibetans, the Kashmiris, the tribals of NWFP, the Afghans, the Azeris, the Georgians, the Daghistanis or the Armenians, the common denominator of vacillating mood runs all along their history. In Kashmir, Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad once explained it in his sledgehammer hyperbole.

But at this juncture, the role of our intellectual luminaries should supervene. It is of paramount importance that the masses of Kashmir are educated intensively about the drastically changed world situation while Kashmir remains a part of the Indian Union. It is not just the accession of one territorial unit to a larger territorial unit called the Indian Union. Accession is the historic decision that facilitated the Kashmiris step out of age-old buffer psychosis, which is responsible for their endemic backwardness. It is their first ever effort of living with an unassailable political, economic, social and cultural personality and identity. The mission for mass education along this line should have been undertaken as early as 1947. The example of beacon lights like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad should have become the guiding spirit. It is here that our political chapters failed us and it is here that our intellectuals and luminaries must play their role even though belated on. I say this keeping in mind the casual treatment given by some political analysts to the essence of accession. Therefore, when somebody advises the Home Minister Advani to accept a settlement of Kashmir “even if it is outside the Constitution of India,” then all right thinking Kashmiris should stand up and ask whether the makers of proposals like that are their sincere well-wisher?

Things have changed drastically. The changed situation provides democracy and pluralism for the entire Indian nation. No State Government, much less the Central Government, ever tried to launch a massive pro-national orientation programme for the people of Kashmir in the wake of new and unprecedented political and social arrangement. They should have been prompted by the harsh realities looking into their eyes. The realities are (a) Kashmir is predominantly a Muslim region. (b) The Kashmiris are bogged down with the buffer psychosis as historical legacy. (c) Literacy level in Kashmir is very low. (d) Kashmir is being projected quite unnecessarily as the symbol of Indian pluralism. (e) By drumming up Kashmiriyat, the negative factor of isolationist psyche has been reinforced, and (e) Kashmir is a landlocked region with only a fair-weather road connecting it with the plains of India. This impinges on her rapid economic development and social transformation.

India’s decision of adopting the path of democracy, secularism and pluralism is not an ordinary or insignificant decision. It is s stupendous effort to harmonise religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and other identities in a bid to cast them into a tolerant and humanistic social frame. This is not something easy to achieve. It asks for sacrifices not escapement. Let us cast a glance at the entire Asian and African continent. Do we find the example anywhere? Many Muslim societies in these continents are locked in a grim struggle for realising these goals but so far without much success. Sincere friends of the Kashmiris have to explain to them whether, in ultimate analysis, a theocratic, feudalistic, militaristic and a cramped conservative social order can help them establish their identity and pull them out from the economic morass?

Sustained and serious thinking along this line may help create an atmosphere conducive for a dialogue for peace. But I will not mince words. Unfortunately, for last half a century an ordinary Kashmiri has been fed on blackmail, on exclusionist notion of religion, on feigned sympathy and on many a tantrum of sorts. What is called alienation in general parlance is, in fact, the dilemma in which they have been cleverly placed. If our politicos, policy planners, mediapersons, human rights activists, social figures and intellectuals embark on a massive objective and pragmatic programme of educating the people in the basics of the philosophy and application of democracy, secularism and pluralism, we can get out of the vicious circle we are caught in. This particular awareness will force our political leadership to harmonise and dovetail their policies and programmes for larger and futuristic national interests. The vote bank canker eating into the vitals of our society needs a scalpel therapy. Proper and intensive political education and economic redress must go hand in hand to remove the dilemma and restore Kashmiris to rational and logical perceptions and inferences.

Americans exude satisfaction and happiness over a prospect of dialogue in Kashmir. It was Pakistan, the Hurriyat and their sympathisers who had been asking for a long time for intervention by the Americans. Now that the American intervention is more than palpable, why does the Hurriyat play a truant?

Before concluding my observations, I must emphasise the importance of return, rehabilitation and restitution of the minority community of Kashmir Pandits in creating an atmosphere conducive for peace in Kashmir. How long will Kashmiri and Indian polity carry on its body the festering wound of an act of ethnic cleansing of a minuscule but indigenous religious minority? I must warn that by politicizing or circumventing or diluting the issue of displaced persons from Kashmir, a peaceful solution of Kashmir problem will remain elusive. If the Pandits are to remain outside Kashmir, then Kashmir cannot be an integral or non-integral part of India. This is what precisely our enemy wants to see. Safe return and concentrated rehabilitation with sufficient constitutional safeguards of cantonal/oblast arrangement for internally displaced persons have been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Commission and other relevant UN bodies on the basis of resolutions passed by the Security Council. Apart from that, big powers and their parliaments have also endorsed these resolutions. The State and the Central Governments must come out of an obsolete mindset and tackle the problem by talking to their genuine representatives and ideologues. While the good-will of a given majority community is the ideal guarantee for the safety of a minority, yet, at the same time, the majority community can show an extra measure of tolerance and accommodation, which are also crucial to their own progress and development. The world opinion is totally against xenophobia. Left alone, the non-elite Kashmiri majority community does not lack the vision to recall their extirpated compatriots and jointly rebuild a tolerant and compassionate Kashmir.

(This paper was presented in the seminar organized by Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Development Studies KFPDS at Broadway Hotel, Srinagar on 3-4 June 2000).

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