Kashmir Crisis- the Historical Perspective

By K.N. Pandit

Unprecedented changes have occurred in the world during past three decades. These are conspicuously visible in international relations, geo- political strategies, economic recession and social churning.

Nevertheless, simultaneously great leaps forward in technological and scientific advancement have abridged distances, shrunk time, and opened exciting opportunities of economic progress. The quality of life has improved considerably. While developing countries had to re-fashion their socio-economic set up to accommodate and even absorb imperatives of rapid development, technologically advanced countries with strong economies thrust much faster innovative options on them.  As a result, developing societies are feeling the pressure of transition to modernism. In such a prospect many irritants are likely to surface. In particular, there is growing demand for social justice and economic parity. 

It is curious that economic progress and economic deprivation, though contradictory in essence, have both contributed to the activation of dormant as well as wakeful social aspirations among underprivileged segments of developing societies. Recognition of identity is an urge and an aspiration.

The most eloquent expression of this phenomenon is to be understood in the Islamic revolution of Iran under theocratic dispensation in 1979.  Commentators are still debating why of all the Muslim countries Iran should have chosen to go theocratic when she had come so close to the fringe of modernism. We should not forget that Iran’s urge for recognition of her identity was articulated, albeit unsuccessfully, way back in 1950s. Did not that failure suggest that Iranian civil society recognized national identity not necessarily conditional to modernism? It was clear that Iran would look for new and effective options to realize her urge for identity? And the option was seized even if it came belatedly and perhaps erratically in a sense – after nearly four decades.

Soviet Union’s incursion of Afghanistan was a foolhardy act of a totalitarian regime undertaken at a very wrong time. As Iranian revolution progressed, Islamic world looked at it with a mixture of anxiety and an air of expectancy. In their thinking Islam was pitted against the greatest power on earth. Evidently, Soviet recklessness in Afghanistan could not have produced consequences other than what it did.  It boosted Islamic orthodoxy and it facilitated casual camaraderie between extremist religious forces and powerful western democracy. The Soviet Union had to pay a heavy price; it broke. The third world war had already commenced albeit in a much different way that the rest of previous world wars.

The urge for recognition of identity among the Muslims, world over, has become almost contagious. Some commentators try to dig into the history of western colonialism to look for the causes of Muslim ecclesiastical resurgence. Today the US and her allies witness with anxiety the harsh consequences of a movement in whose resurgence they had a pivotal role. The proud and heroic mujahideen of Zia era are patent “terrorists” and “Theo-fascists” of Zardari era in Pakistan. People are divided, societies are divided and countries are divided on the basics of this phenomenon and the ways of tackling it.

Muslims and Islam are at the centre of this phenomenon. But notwithstanding Iran’s show of determination, the difference in the resurgence of Islam in Iran on the one hand and in Af-Pak on the other is vital. In Iran, popular Islam rose against theist American imperialism whereas in Afghanistan-Pakistan, political Islamic revival sprang out of opposition to atheist Russian imperialism.  As we see today, in the aftermath of Soviet dismemberment, the Muslim world stands divided between supporters and opponents of western imperialism. To put it crudely, one may say that imperialism became an instrument of causing polarization in Islamic communities.

This divide has run into Muslim polity in another form – revivalists and reformists, an old game. Curiously, the divide exists despite the proviso of ijtihad or re-interpretation of Qur’an and tradition. However, the divide is not of recent history; it has been there since the days of Caliphate. Exploiters count on this yawning chasm.

In no other religion do we find a fiercer controversy like “true” and “counterfeit” Musulman. Both aspects are variously interpreted. Essentially, the approach is of attaching purely ecclesiastical connotation in one case and economic, social and cultural parameters of assessment to the other.

How and why did this debate spring in Muslim scholastic circles? A very vital issue of far-reaching consequences was raised by the great Muslim historian-scholar Ibn Khaldun in late 13th century in Baghdad. Known as father of the science of Philosophy of History, he said that Arabs had conquered and Islamized a vast part of Asia where established societies with splendid civilizations existed prior to the advent of Arabs and the faith brought by their Prophet. A day would come, he asserted, when Muslims will have to consider how to adapt Islamic teachings, traditions and ways of life to many healthy and pragmatic socio-cultural trends of the conquered peoples. Ibn Khaldun was a profound scholar of social history and a visionary, who shuddered at the thought of Muslims not willing to come out of their cocoon, and bask in the sunshine of prospective synchronized civilizations that would inevitably take shape in Islamic empires, kingdoms and satrapies.

In all probability, Ibn Khaldun took the cue from Isma’ili thinkers and outstanding philosophers of the 10-11th century A.D. who attached supreme importance to logic as the instrument for arriving at the truth. Foremost among these great Islamic intellectuals was Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna), the philosopher-physician from Turkistan, and the celebrated author of al-Shifa and al-Qanun. His al-Shifa is part of the syllabus of medical studies at Sorbonne University of France today. Ibn Sina debated the truth of even the most sensitive subjects like the prophet-hood, the divine message; the revealed book etc. which he said could be brought out through inductive and deductive process. This revolutionary idea indirectly challenged the entrenched attitude of blind faith. Ibn Sina initiated the great debate on the subject of belief and reason, which has seized the mind of the Muslims ever since.

This takes us a couple of centuries back in Islamic history, and we mean the days of the Abbasid Caliphate. (7/8th century A.D). In the days of Haroon ar-Rashid, a bureau called baitu’l-hikmat (meaning the House of Knowledge) was established in Baghdad. Actually it was a bureau where the works of great Greek masters like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates and others were translated from Greek into Arabic. Great scholars not only Muslims but of different faiths, too, particularly the Jewish and Zoroastrian, who were polyglots, assembled at the bureau to make their contributions. Mansoor ar-Rashid ordered that remuneration for each great work translated into Arabic would be gold equal to its weight. This priceless fund of knowledge passed on to the Roman Empire, and later on, got disseminated to various European societies. Renaissance of mid – 16th century in Europe was a sequel to this transfer of scientific fund of knowledge. On that basis, ultimately came up the powerful and magnificent structure called modern European or western civilization.

The crux of this unique service of the Muslims to human civilization was to establish fecundity of the faculty of reason and rationality in comparison to blind faith. Ibn Sina tells us that he had access to this great fund of knowledge at the library in Khwarazm, and he rummaged box after box of manuscripts to drink deep from the works of great masters.

In centuries that followed, Muslim scholars of eminence took up the challenging task of interpreting the thoughts of great Greek masters now available to them in their own language.  At Alexandria (Iskandariyah) in Egypt, scholars engaged themselves in forceful debates on basic issues touched upon by the masters. It was here that differences of opinion on various issues surfaced among Islamic scholars, theologians and liberals. This phenomenon was not too surprising. Controversy on crucial issues had raged for a long time till Ibn Sina pronounced the historic judgment. He said that there was no controversy over the thoughts of Aristotle and Plato; the problem was with the interpreters who interpreted according to their understanding.

Reverting to the theme of logic versus blind faith, the logjam that gripped Muslim society in early Middle Ages (11 – 14 century A.D.), the rise of dominant satraps in Khurasan (11-12th century A.D.) — the semi – autonomous but crucially important eastern province of the Caliphate — and their support to and dependence on feudal structure of society came as a shot in the arm of Islamic orthodoxy. Thinkers following Greek school of thought, or the logicians (istadlaliyun) became the target of the wrath of traditionalists, the upholders of the ideology of blind faith (muttakallimun).  Ghazali, the traditionalist, wrote Tahafatu’l-Filasafa in which he strongly underrated those who called logic the mother of all sciences. Thus from 12th century A.D. onwards, feudalism and orthodoxy became complementary to each other establishing inseparability of religion and politics for the inheritors of Caliphate. This marked the beginning of the decline of the age of reason in Islamic societies; belief and tradition arched over the institutions of Islamic state.

Industrial Revolution in Europe towards the second half of the 17th century gradually reduced the power of the church. With that, rational discourse that had been almost banished from the Islamic world, found a fertile ground to flourish in European societies with new and fascinating dimensions. Martin Luther’s reformative agenda had opened great vistas that strengthened the position of the age of reason. Alas, neither an industrial revolution of sorts nor a thinker of Martin Luther’s vision was thrown up by the Muslim society for many centuries to come. The fund of science and knowledge, which Muslims so painstakingly brought into limelight, illuminated the houses of others while Muslims relapsed into darkness.  With each passing century, the gap between the two grew wider.  No wonder, therefore, that 21st century, a high watermark of socio-economic development in Western societies, is seen as potent threat to cynical disregard of creative faculty of the best of God’s creation (ashrafu’l-makhluqat). Man’s absolute surrender to the Supreme came in clash with his innovative and creative potential. Iqbal subtly alluded to this fundamental contradiction:

  • Main khatakta hun dil-e yazdan main kante ki tarah
    Tu faqat Allah hoo Allah hoo Allah hoo
  • {I, the protagonist of rational sciences sit like a thorn in one corner or God’s heart. And you (the blindfolded man) have nothing except Allah is Great, allah is Grat, Allah is Great}

It means that introspective minds within the Islamic fold did recognize the role of human intellect and reason in the process of social evolution. But their circumspection is a baffling question that has been dogging the Muslim community.

However, the proposition has another vital dimension. Quite understandably, in a society steeped in unending controversy over predestined and freewill (jabr wa qadr), acceptance of western view that leaves the future of mankind to the interplay of forces of intellect, is almost outlandish. In their view it is tantamount to questioning the omnipotence of the Supreme Being: it undermines the entire structure on which Islamic concept of relationship between Man and his Creator rests.

For western existentialists reason remains a prescription for ascent to higher levels of temporal life. For them, each passing century proved the veracity of logic being the mother of all sciences.  Great scientific discoveries that followed Industrial Revolution of A.D. 1688 in England established the fact that science and technology were the arbiters of the destiny of mankind. While veering to this inference, western societies left the divine and divinity either to benign negligence or to the dreaming Easterners.

But to Muslims, ultimate power rests with Allah and the ultimate arbiter of destinies is Allah. Therefore, in Islamic culture, the source of a victory and an achievement is Allah. Absolute surrender to Allah is one of the basic tenets of Islamic teaching. He is the arbiter (jabber wa qahhar). This then is one of the basic hindrances in Islam’s interaction with the western world and its ideological tributaries.

But the struggle is not necessarily between technology savvy west and tradition ridden Islam. Apart from this dilemma, a major part of the struggle lies within the broad Islamic fold itself. It is the revival of the long drawn struggle between the istadlaliyun and muttakallimun of 12the century in its new avatar of “pure” and “counterfeit” Islam. Taliban and Al-Qaeda is also the product of same thinking. They are spokesperson of orthodox Islam. Thus entire Islamic polity has become a victim of dissensions, strife and differences.

Ordinarily, no external player is either interested in or qualified to settle this domestic dispute of the ummah. Awakening has to come from within.  It is important to realize that overt or covert role of an external entity is only for its self-aggrandizement. It is for the Muslim leadership of contemporary times to lead the community out of the labyrinth of conflicting convictions and debilitating contradictions. The question of settling score with the West will recede once internal conflict is set at rest, and a cosmopolitan system of ‘Islam at work with other civilizations’ is produced. It should be possible to evolve a viable formula of reconciling to the imperatives of contemporary scientific age without eroding pristine principles of faith. It is also equally important to come out of the cocoon, a virtual fossilized mindset, and give new direction, vitality and animation to the process of socialization.

More than twenty million Muslims of Asian and African continents have migrated to the western countries including the US. Millions more are waiting in the wings. These émigrés have adjusted to the western way of life without losing their identity. This means that for Muslim adjustability in non-Muslim environs is neither elusive nor discordant. Therefore, the question of discrimination, drilled into the heads of youth in seminaries, has economic or political but not religious trappings. Governments of western countries are prepared to remunerate Muslim families handsomely if they volunteer to return to their countries of origin bag and baggage. But why they do not want to leave is a very profound question, which Islamic revivalists must answer.

Two non-Semitic regions that came under Islamic sway with Arab invasion, namely Iran and Central Asia, converted fully to the faith of the invaders. But the case of the Indian sub-continent is somewhat different. India of those days was identifiable not necessarily with Hindu religion but surely with sub-continental civilization. The vast land mass of India accommodated many nations and their indigenous cultures but at the same time it supported an over-arching civilization. Muslim conquerors coming from abroad primarily focused on raising an empire and ruling over the subjugated nations. Conversion of local people to the new faith was a by-product of this goal. The concept of providing civilizational base to the empire was conspicuously absent in their philosophy of statehood. It has already been said that the concept of victorious Muslims kingdoms and principalities adapting to indigenous traditions of a conquered region with deep rooted symbols of civilization was raised as early as the 12th century by Ibn Khaldun.  Except for Jalalu’d-Din Akbar, and prior to him Sultan Zainu’l-‘Abidin of Kashmir (A.D. 1431-1480) no Muslim authority in the sub-continent tried to translate Ibn Khaldun’s remarkable vision into practice. But Akbar, too, failed in his half-hearted attempt because his radical socio-cultural reform was a super structure without a base.

Carving a Muslim State in India in 1947 was a practical expression of the ideology of separatism, something unusual to the history of state building in Islam. It was the outcome of chronic ideological conflict dogging the ummah for many centuries in the past: its managers rejoiced at the triumph of orthodoxy. Notably the founder of Jama’at-e Islami, Maulana Abu ‘Ala Mowdoodi had opposed the creation of Pakistan keeping in mind the fundamental Islamic belief that that faith would prevail as it was sent on earth by God..

In geographical terms, the State of Jammu and Kashmir is contiguous to the newly formed Islamic State of Pakistan. We have a majority of Muslims in the State and their predominance is to the tune of 67 % in the region. Islam came to Kashmir around 1339 A.D. not through invaders but through missionaries from Iran and Central Asia. They were the persons volunteering for a mission of proselytizing in Kashmir.

For nearly two thousand years of her pre-Islamic history, Kashmir was ruled by autocratic and mostly imbecile Hindu kings.  Kashmir polity under the Hindu rule, and particularly towards its fag end, was groaning under oppressive Brahman nobility that drew strength and influence from feudal chiefs, daring warriors and villainous ministers. For long, Kashmir peasantry was the first to bear the brunt of state oppression. The advent of Islam that promised new ideas of social behavior and new norms of intra-community relationship was, historically and psychologically, bound to have a strong impact on the masses of Kashmiri people.

But some fundamental questions remained. Did the replacement of an authoritarian culture with the culture of fraternized relationship (ukhawwat) mean much in terms of material reconstruction of Kashmirian society? Did Islamic mission in Kashmir end with the conversion of the non-Muslims to the faith and their temples to mosques?  Was Kashmiri Islam to remain perpetually entangled in small and mundane theological controversies and not think of a wholesome policy that would infuse new blood into the social, economic and political veins of the nation?

An entirely new phenomenon of Kashmir history, after the advent of the Muslims, was that ultimate ruling authority passed into the hands of non-indigenous actors. When in commanding position, their treatment of the locals, subordinates and camp followers, repudiated the much touted theory of Islamic fraternity bonds. Conspiracies and Machiavellian statecraft galore at the royal court was canker to Kashmirian society. In a sense the rot that ate into its vitals during the last two centuries of Hindu rule, continued in its full fury even though royalty had changed hands and civilizational transition had been brought about. Something was wrong with Kashmirian psyche.

Physical geography of Kashmir hindered, rather virtually blocked, its brisk interaction with the mainstream Muslim world at this point of time. The rise of ferocious Mongols, warlike Central Asian satraps and adventurous warriors and their bloody exploits disrupted traditional network of trade and trade routes in the Asian region. It choked Kashmir’s trade arteries to the ancient Silk Rout. Kashmir’s economy crumbled.

For this and other reasons indicated above, Muslim polity under the Sultans soon degenerated into a specter of misrule and mismanagement. The rise of powerful kingdoms and principalities beyond the southern borders of Kashmir posed serious threat to national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kashmir kingdom, now steeped in a milieu of social disorder and economic depression.

To make this situation more precarious, sectarianism raised its ugly head in Kashmir Muslim society.  In 15th century, Iran, after having left behind its long era of fragmented sovereignty, was inching towards the consolidation of State and centralization of power. A viable social support-structure was desirable and welcome.  This marked the beginning of stirring up Shia’ sensitivities in Iranian social milieu, which ultimately led to the establishment of official Iranian Shia’ state und the powerful Safavis in the second half of the 17th century A.D.

Reverberations of rumblings in Iranian society could not be missed in sections of Kashmirian Muslim society that had, by now, got acclimatized to the cult of early missionaries from Iran. Division of society on sectarian basis prompted some fixated elements to seek support from external actors who dominated political scenario at that time. This was the beginning of the most painful phenomenon of Kashmir history — people and leaders looking beyond physical borders of their native land to get their political differences arbitrated by a third party.  Little did they know that in their neighborhood lay strong imperial powers coveting more lands and more resources? Did Kashmiris voluntarily opt for their enslavement? Did they abysmally lose faith in the independence of a nation? Were they condemned to eternal degradation and isolation? This is the core issue that has unfortunately overflowed to our times.

After passing through millennia of darkness, oppression and destitution, after braving tyranny and coercion by repressive Rajas and despotic Sultans, after passing through the rapacity and avarice of feudal lords, petty chieftains, and highland robbers from the times of her known history to the beginning of the 19th century, Kashmir was drawn into the vortex of regional political game plan of two European imperial powers — Great Britain and Tsarist Russia— vying for supremacy in Asia. In a bid to check the march of Tsarist legions south of the Hindukush — the Central Asian watershed between the territories of Tsarist Russia and British India — the British policy planners decided conversion of the north-western region adjoining Punjab into a separate entity because at that point of time, the non-descript region already happened to be an appendage of the Sikh Kingdom of Lahore. It was placed under a powerful Jammu chieftain, who acquired possession of the valley through a sale deed, and of northern areas of Gilgit, Baltistan, Ladakh and Zanskar through force of arms. Thus came into existence in A.D. 1847 the modern State of Jammu and Kashmir.

The issue of the sale of Kashmir has been frequently used to deride the Dogra autocratic rulers.  But Kashmir is not an isolated case in world history. The Presidents of the US purchased many states of America, like Texas and California, which now form part of the US mainland.  Not too far back, Russia sold Alaska to the US. This is not to exonerate the imperialistic mentality of parties involved in the transaction, but the real problem lies not in the sale of Kashmir but elsewhere. If we banish prejudice, we shall find that the founder of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was Maharaja Gulab Singh who founded it in 1846.

It has to be recalled that inviting or prompting external actors to rule over Kashmir just out of some vendetta or emotion or for gaining sectarian supremacy was worse than the sale of the land.

With the emergence of bi-polar power structure on international plane, and division of India into two states – one of the two along communal lines – after World War II, the two major world powers conducted their regional strategies mostly through their proxies. Creation of Pakistan was the triumph of orthodoxy, which the age of science and technology had put under strain.  Kashmir significantly figured in the game plan of those whose hands kept moving behind the curtain.

Propaganda blitzkrieg emerged a powerful weapon of cold war era. Victory of the Allies was labeled as victory of democracy and freedom of expression. For self-styled custodians of democracy, it became the rock- hard stick to beat its “enemies” with.

In the communist state of Soviet Union, Great Britain envisioned a much more formidable enemy than in Tsarist Russia. After World War II, economically debilitated Great Britain focused more on post war reconstruction at home. In a vacuum of sorts created by her inability to play the traditional colonial role actively in Asia, the United States of America stepped in. The British had smelt oil in the Gulf in 1905 and then taking into account its importance as a powerful weapon of political arbitration, the world was to witness in years to come the great hegemony of American “democracy”.

Reverting to Kashmir situation, for the first time in her chequered history spanning nearly two thousand years, a mass movement demanding institutionalizing of Kashmiri identity surfaced in the first decade of the 20th century. Indian leaders were influenced by the socialist movement in Russia and parts of Europe. British intelligentsia, with which emerging Indian leaders were in liaison, became the catalyst to the Indian National Congress’ great nationalist struggle under stalwarts like Gandhi. Congress movement was not only a movement against colonial domination of India. It was also a movement against a social – cultural order that stood in the way of nation building process. Thus participation not separation was the hallmark of the movement. Congress movement could be weakened by striking at the root of this hallmark; that was the game plan of the colonial power when it was convinced that it had to quit the sub-continent sooner or later.

The pioneers of Kashmir freedom movement were those Kashmir’s (precisely Kashmiri Pandits) who went to Lahore and other cities of India for educational pursuits at the beginning of the 20th century. They came into contact with nationalists of all hues irrespective of caste or creed. They compared the backwardness of their State with other parts of India and came to the conclusion that unless people rose in unison to reconstruct their destiny, things would not change. Therefore, in line with the ideology of Indian National Congress, it was desirable to launch a movement for doing away with the autocratic rule in Kashmir. Freedom was indivisible. It were these pioneers of Kashmir freedom movement who had a vision of a nationalist and secular Kashmiri Muslim leading the movement.

Contrary to this, the basis on which Pakistan came into being was the theory of exclusiveness and separatism and religious homogeneity, which as it should have been, proved the biggest of myths.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s decision to support State’s accession to India in 1947 was not only on the basis of ideological similarity between National Conference and National Congress. There was one very important facet to this solidarity. It was a stupendous effort of harmonizing dogmatism and liberal scientific temper of 20th century through democratic process of nation building. This was of greatest concern to the Muslims in the sub-continent who had opted not to shift to the Islamic State newly carved out on the basis of religion. Emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 followed by current events in Pakistan has vindicated them.

Application of this analysis to Kashmir is of singular importance. The land to tiller programme of Naya Kashmir meant a frontal attack on the feudal-orthodox combine that had arisen around the 9th/10th century in the eastern parts of Islamic Caliphate, and determinedly dogged the Muslim ummah through subsequent centuries. It held the ummah a hostage to non-resilient ecclesiastical institutions.

In that sense, Sheikh Abdullah made a historic contribution to pull his people out of a frozen and fossilized mindset. This was a unique attempt of hammering reconciliation between blind faith and reason. He strongly thought that Kashmirian society had the capacity to absorb the process of fusion of faith and reason, which some people in our days were disposed to call, albeit inadvertently as Kashmiriyat. And yet he did not dismiss the possibility of this fusion ultimately culminating in independent identity of Kashmiris for which they had begun their long struggle in the first decade of the 20th century.  That was the basis on which he opted for accession to India. They could have decided in favour of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir instead of accession to India. They faltered because they did not anticipate the fallout of such a decision on the situation in the sub-continent.

It has to be said that before turning to Indian Union in October 1947, the Sheikh tried to have an experiment with the founders of Pakistan if they were agreeable to ensuring Kashmiris the urge for recognition of their identity. Behind this demand of the Sheikh, stood the sordid saga of two thousand years of our slavery, coercion and subjugation. Pakistani authorities spurned his demand not only because they never trusted Kashmir’s but also, and perhaps more probably, because they had no grasp of the history of the peoples and the regions. This also explains the spirit behind inclusion of Article 370 in the Indian Constitution.

What are the objectives of those who sponsored and abetted armed militancy in Kashmir in 1990?  They have goaded revivalists into intensifying traditional strife against liberalism. In doing so, they count on emotionalism of Kashmiris.  It aims at disrupting all conditions and settings that would help Kashmir wriggle out of a frozen mindset: it wants Kashmiris to acquiesce to the domination of political-bureaucratic supported orthodoxy as of yore. In an independent Kashmir, it sees the image of its failure as a theocratic state.

There is much talk of self-rule and self-determination among the masses of people in Kashmir. From 1990, the year when armed insurgency sprang in the valley, Indian state has been gradually, though in small doses, allowing Islamic theocratic culture to prevail in Kashmir. The Indian state wants to retain its grip on Kashmir, and if by Kashmir the people of the land are meant, they are in no way with India though their land is. Nationalist and secularist symbols have been washed off unceremoniously throughout the valley. There is not a single private or a public building in the valley on which Indian tricolor flutters. Instead Pakistani flags and pro-Pakistan “independent flags” flutter with all pride on every second or third housetop .Daily newspapers published from Srinagar, whether in Urdu or in English, carry at least one or two full page reportage about Pakistan. The idiom they use is Pakistan centric. Even the smallest and inconsequential event in Pakistan, if it supports fundamentalist approach, finds space in these newspapers. Names adopted by new generation of Muslim youth, both boys and girls, are drawn from traditional Islamic history and more commonly associated with well-known Islamic soldiers, warriors, commanders and crusaders. Every week a new mosque and a Jama’at-e Islami seminary is inaugurated in one village or the other. In their five time prayers, the worshippers seek prosperity to Pakistan and death to India. Institutions are Islamized, and almost a parallel government of ecclesiastical luminaries, shares power with pseudo-secular bureaucracy.

What then is self-rule and self –determination? The institution that provides security of life to millions of Kashmir, namely the army, is the most ridiculed institution. Is this all not a proof that the State has established the special kind of self-determination and self-rule? Kashmiris and their leadership is standing on the crossroads of history/ They have to decide which course they adopt in their own larger interests. The End.

(The author is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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