In the Kashmir Valley, as in Palestine, it would be doubly cruel to blame the victims of history and circumstances for what happened to them. People in these now (but not always) deprived places have experienced alienation, abuse of civil liberties, constant humiliation and even torture, and the loss of their homes and even their lives. In Kashmir, this includes both Muslims and Hindus, although the majority are of course Muslim. In both parts of the world, history now seems to march on and the losers have to ponder what could have been.
The world has increasingly come to terms with a Zionist Israel that defies global opinion and has refused to grasp what many had hoped for, a two-state solution. As one Arab country after another is more open to Israel, the Palestinians in overcrowded Gaza and grotesquely carved areas of the West Bank are left to their gadgets.
It’s no different in Kashmir. Very many in the valley (whose population formed the majority in the once united but religiously and culturally diverse state of Jammu and Kashmir) dreamed of an « azaadi » (freedom), the definition of which changed from one phase to the next and from one person to another next. Some thought of total political independence along with a merger with Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, others of total merger with Pakistan, and still others of an irredentist return to radical autonomy, with the state having its own flag, currency and prime minister.
All of this demonstrated a lack of realism that has also been the hallmark of Palestinian politics and pursuit over the decades. People in both places have lived in a state of denial and refused to accept the bleak fact that resorting to violence against an infinitely superior force is suicide. It is of course true that people who are driven to despair turn to violence, no matter how futile they may be. But it is no less true that they have suffered from the excesses of quasi-police states and that both had less than they could once have gotten through if their aspirations had been tinged with greater realism.
This could also be said of Indian diplomacy in connection with the border dispute with China. The deal, which was offered until 1960 and possibly re-offered in the early 1980s (exchanging Arunachal Pradesh for Aksai Chin), is off the table. Beijing has grown in power and military traction and now wants to penetrate further into the area that India occupied in Ladakh, while also claiming at least the Tawang corner of Arunachal Pradesh. After all, the thing about power is that it quenches the appetite for more.
And so it was with Israel and Palestine. The deal offered 70 years ago would have given the Palestinians a much bigger home than what is left to them now. Israel has since established more and more illegal settlements in the area it occupied. India, in turn, bit the bullet and scrapped two important articles of the constitution that gave the people of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir special rights. Local politicians are now calling for the status quo ante to be restored, which they will not get. Separatist militants hope to continue the struggle for « Azaadi », but they are tools in the hands of a hostile country and have made little progress in 30 years.
There is one more lesson or question waiting for an answer. The government norms of the Palestine Authority have always been difficult to compare with those of Israel. The governments of Jammu and Kashmir have long been synonymous with indolence, incompetence and corruption, although on average people are far better off than in the rest of India, also because of generous central transfers. India failed to match China’s impressive record. How much of the loss of relative power, in some cases legitimacy and autonomous will, results from such internal errors? Do the people in these places have it easy to ask the question?
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There were brutal layoffs and wage cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking and making a gross spectacle in prime time.
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It is strange and suggestive that The Print should feel compelled to believe (and therefore be convinced) that the Kashmir issue is on all fours with the Palestinian Authority in the sense that it is a known truth is that before the coercion of the Kashmiri Pandits conversion to Islam, all residents of the Kashmir Valley, have always been known as Hindus because there was no Islam when the Hindus lived there. It is also known that until the Islamic invasion and the mostly violent conversion of the population to Islam, all residents of the country geographically known as India were NOT MUSLIMS – unless, of course, it is The Print’s theory that the people of the valley did all long ago Muslims from ফেইথ.
It is not known whether the Palestinians were Muslims by faith before the birth of the Prophet and Islam.
With this in mind, it is appropriate that The Print equates the Kashmiri embroglio with the Palestinian question – whatever the ulterior motive of the article.
Israel, Gaza Strip, Palestinians, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, West Bank, Hamas
World News – AU – Why Kashmiris, Palestinians are thinking about what realism and better governance could have brought
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