Let’s Exercise Our Votes For A Peaceful Path To A Better Tomorrow
now improve understanding and trust
By Neeraj Bhushan
There is an audience in Pakistan. There is an audience in India. And then there is a huge audience all over the world. Yes, when it comes to the K world, everyone talks to one’s own audience. Maybe this is the prime reason why Kashmir remains a flashpoint. Must I mention that my English teacher, in a military school, explained to me the meaning of the phrase ‘Apple of Discord’ in the following terms: “Kashmir is an apple of discord between India and Pakistan.”
Gosh! Why was it planted into my young innocent mind then itself, that Kashmir somehow relates to a problem and it is not just a beautiful Indian state! Ever since, as I matured at colleges and then into a complete Indian, Kashmir has always appeared to me a thirsty territory. Why don’t we realise collectively that Kashmir is indeed a ladder must we climb today before it’s rather too late. Let’s not invoke Shakespeare time and again that roses always come with thorns. Let the people of Jammu and Kashmir realise that WE (that includes anything anywhere) indeed want to solve the issue(s) at hand, once and for all.
The two hot parties involved in this – India and Pakistan – must not kill any opportunity that they feel has the potential of providing everlasting peace in the sub-continent. Hasn’t so much effort and hard work already gone into it? We also have had umpteen photo opportunities discussing Indo-Pak relations. But aren’t there some real, hard issues which need to be addressed?
So, let us not have any illusions either. We should not be assuming that we have solved everything (or that we will not solve anything) and everything is fine. We should begin understanding now that the dialogues between the two sides have to give results after all. It has already taken much time for the outstanding issues to be resolved. The difficulty levels of either parties are also well estimated. And as a matter of fact, who does not know the subject through and through!
Leaders and officials of India and Pakistan – the two neighbours – have also met many a times, even in the recent past, and held peace talks on all issues. But, then, any progress between them has halted. Blame it on 2008 Mumbai terror attacks!!!
But how far have we gone on the prescriptions — There are steps that we could take: confidence building measures, addressing the trust deficit, promoting better people-to-people exchanges, making it easier for trade and business exchanges, dealing with the subject of terrorism and the counter-terrorism measures that we need to put in place, narcotics, trade across the Line of Control (LoC), Sir Creek, Siachen, Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security and promotion of friendly exchanges.
It’s not that I haven’t seen competent authorities and leaders being as frank as they can, while speaking on Indo-Pak ties or the K word. But then I have also seen them falling silent, not saying anything anymore. Soon, they appear with bladder of unseen constraints.
Wish the audiences in India, Pakistan and the world over could extract confessions from the respective leaders as to what holds them back. As an Indian, the issue like ‘terrorism’ obviously concerns me. As a world citizen, the issue like ‘tourism’ concerns me. As a human being, the issue like ‘living happily’ concerns me. And I believe all these are equally important for any other living being on the planet earth. Then why don’t you discuss it with the right intentions, to resolve the issues, whatsoever, for bringing peace.
Writing for Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, eminent Indian columnist Kuldip Nayar had noted: “I have no doubt that the Kashmir problem will be solved sooner or later. But too much has happened in the state in the past. This makes it difficult for the old Kashmir to come back to life. Familiar symbols are dying. Sufism has been replaced by assertive teachings. Kashmiri music is dying out because society has been forced to acquire a religious edge. Old crafts attract fewer artisans because there is a race to earn a quick buck.
The wazwan, a string of Kashmiri dishes served at one sitting, is still there but new cooks are hard to get. The reintegration of Muslims and Pandits appears difficult. An Islamic identity has taken shape, reportedly more in the countryside. Kashmiriyat, a secular ethos, is beyond repair. The animosity among the three regions Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh, may dilute but will remain. It may still remain the state of Jammu and Kashmir. But its soul would be missing.“
[To be concluded]
The Gappuccino also featured Shivani Virani’s FIRST HAND post on Kashmir