Saturday, February 4, 2023
HomeOpinionRequiem for a dream: Kashmir needs a heavy dose of post-nationalism

Requiem for a dream: Kashmir needs a heavy dose of post-nationalism

To think that the Line of Control will ever become a permanent border is a pipe-dream. Kashmir needs out-of-the-box solutions.

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Every few years the Indian government makes noise about claiming Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, publicising its maximalist position on the Kashmir issue.

Nobody takes it seriously since everyone knows it’s never going to happen. Pakistan will always have enough global leverage thanks to its dirty games in Afghanistan. And with the nukes, the military option is anyway ruled out.

Besides, the people of PoK aren’t exactly giving up their lives to join the Indian union. Perhaps, they have silly notions like not wanting to get lynched for being Muslim and continuing to enjoy Netflix shows. No wonder that more Hindutva activists worry about Balochistan than Baltistan.

For reasons both military and diplomatic, Pakistan can also never hope to take over the Kashmir Valley, or the Jammu and Ladakh regions. The Pakistani army is happy to keep stoking the fire in this region because an army with a state needs a permanent enemy.

Also read: By challenging status quo on Kashmir, India risks hyphenating itself with Pakistan again

The most impractical solution

The strategic community in India therefore has a practical approach. They think the only solution to the Kashmir imbroglio (on days when they admit it’s one) is to turn the Line of Control into a permanent border. It’s the only solution practicable and possible, they say.

It’s an idea that’s almost treason in Pakistan. Reclaiming the Kashmir Valley from India is the centre-piece of Pakistan’s militaristic nationalism. To say that the Line of Control should be converted into an international border is to give up a claim over which Pakistan has spent more than seven decades fighting with India. And yet, I once met a Pakistani politician who said, sotto voce, “It’s been seven decades of India having one part and Pakistan having another. It makes sense to just make LoC an international border and finish the matter.” Problem is, he can’t dare to say this publicly.

The dismantling of the state of Jammu & Kashmir by the Narendra Modi government has made such a solution even more impossible. Even if the Pakistani army hypothetically wants to do it, how will it sell the idea to its people? And with rising Hindu nationalism in India, can you imagine any Indian Prime Minister agreeing to changing the map of India and having the head of Bharat Mata look chopped off? Never. Not even Modi could sell it.

Turning the LoC into an international border is actually the most impracticable idea.

Also read: Amit Shah’s political aim to recover PoK is not backed by India’s military capacity

Two forks in the road

If it seems like such a practical solution to common sense-loving people, why are we so far from it? That’s because Jammu & Kashmir is not a land dispute. It’s a nationalism dispute.

For example, India and Bangladesh resolved their border disputes in 2015, with India actually giving away more land to Bangladesh, because nationalism did not come in the way. The intractable issue of the border enclaves was resolved without any spectacle.

Anyone who wants to bring peace between India and Pakistan has to address Kashmir, and anyone who wants to address Kashmir has to address nationalism.

Many conflicts in the world are disputes between two competing ideas of nationhood. That is why North and South Korea can’t get along, China and Japan can’t see eye to eye, and Israel can’t be at peace with even a subjugated Palestine. In Balochistan, it is essentially Baloch nationalism versus Pakistani nationalism. In Nagaland, it is Naga aspirations versus the Indian flag. East Turkestan (Xinjiang), Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong are up against Chinese nationalism.

Kashmir is a unique situation with not two but three different kinds of nationalism clashing against each other: Indian, Pakistani, Kashmiri. This makes it more intractable than most other international conflicts. There’s not one but two forks in the road.

As if this was not difficult enough, there’s also global post-9/11 pan-Islamism and India’s Hindutva majoritarianism. As young radical Kashmiris started looking up to the ISIS, the rise of Hindutva in India after 2014 has now alienated even Gujjars and Bakarwals of Jammu from New Delhi. The Kathua rape and murder was a turning point.

Also read: Modi has finished Pakistan’s ‘unfinished business’ of Partition

A post-nationalist dream

Even if India and Pakistan agreed to turn the LoC into an international border, there’s no guarantee they will stop fighting with each other. Pakistan will likely continue using terrorist groups for ‘asymmetric warfare’, and New Delhi will continue alienating Kashmiris, pushing them to participate in Pakistan’s proxy warfare against India.

The only way out, whenever it happens, will be post-nationalism. India and Pakistan will need to get comfortable with their national identities, move on from Partition, stop competing with each other like jealous neighbours wishing the worst for each other. Doing so will need resolving Kashmir, because the dispute ignites nationalist passions on both sides.

India and Pakistan will one day realise there’s something beyond flag-waving, chest-thumping nationalism. Nationalism as an idea in the subcontinent is only a little over 200 years old. Our next step has to be one where we are less agitated about winning a race against our neighbour. When we get to that point, we will be ready for shared sovereignty over Jammu & Kashmir.

The Manmohan-Musharraf 4-point formula in effect was about shared sovereignty. It was an idea expressed much before its time. It may take decades or, who knows, centuries for us to get there, but it is the only solution possible. As long as we are fighting for land, no side will ever be happy. It is nationalism, which we have to eventually confront to bury the ghosts of Partition.

It may be difficult to make a case for post-nationalism in the age of Trump and Brexit, but even after Brexit, the European Union will have 27 countries without borders. Many of these countries were at war with each other just when India was coming out of colonial rule. It took the horrors of two world wars to make Europeans look beyond nationalism. Perhaps, a gory war is what it might take for India and Pakistan to graduate to post-nationalism and ‘free’ Kashmir.

Also read: Kashmir was never just a 1947 problem, it is a 5,000-year old battle of histories

Views are personal.

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  1. Are you journalist or fortune teller. You require tight slap from Mr. Shekhar Gupta to bring you in this world. I am not trolling. I am your ardent fan.

    • Wow. A doctor is supposed to heal and not suggest to give slaps. Anyhow, your ‘slappy’ response, without giving any reason whatsoever for your getting so upset, shows why Vij’s idea won’t work. Nationalism is what dominates.

      • I just didn’t like his fortune telling. I am fan of writing of Mr. Shivam Vij. I consider myself centrist or centre left. I have not been swept away by mood of nationalism. But jingoism has made leftist paranoid. It’s refreshing to read Print in such paranoid times and maintain the sanity.

  2. Shivam Vij must be doing some heavy drugs if he thinks that India will ever agree on shared sovereignty over J&K. As per the RSS doctrine, goal of BJP is Akhand Bharat and they will do that like they did other things which they promised for example, Article 370 and Ram Temple ( verdict is right around the corner and if and that’s the big if, SC gives it to Muslim side, there is very little doubt that government will bring an ordinance to overturn that verdict) . As Amit Shah once said that BJP will rule for next 50 years as there is no visible national opposition, there will be plenty of time to retake what’s rightfully India’s which includes POK and later whole Pakistan itself. But going back to the idea of shared sovereignty, I think India would agree with Balochistan on shared sovereignty unless they want to acceed with India. For rest of Pak, there may be another partition like 1971, or full annexation after plebiscite. So to think that Pakistan will hold out for long is a daydream and as 370 aftermath tells us that nobody takes Pakistan seriously except indian liberals like Shivam Vij, who still think that India would give away its claims on POK. What he conveniently forgets is that India has not given away its claims on Aksai chin with China, which has actually defeated india in 1962 war and is most powerful country in Asia. So why would he think that India will give up its claim on POK over to Pakistan which has lost all conventional wars against India and is on rhe verge of losing its unconventional war with India which it perpetrates through cross border terrorism because sooner or later ( 5 years) Kashmiris will understand that there is no place in the India for kashmiri nationalism and that idea had the expiry date just like article 370. So Shivam Vij should focus less on Pakistan and focus more on upcoming state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana where Congress is nowhere in the picture and it looks like cakewalk for BJP.

  3. Where there are Muslims, there will be problems. Unless the world faces this white elephant, it can’t solve any national or international problem.

  4. Kashmir needs compassion, not concertina wire. When Vajpayeeji spoke of Insaaniyat – which for me takes Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat within its fold – he was not being idealistic, naive, soft, wimpish. He knew the other path led to a desolate wasteland.

  5. If Kashmir valley wants separate country because of muslim majority factor , one can fix that and make them minority. Many landless from all over India on aptitude basis can be moved and settled in Kashmir may be with a free fire arm for settlers or under security forces protection. End of story , full stop. (fyi Because Kashmir Valley muslims , raped ran off 500,000 pundits in 90z – this will more than reverse it) Lots of land lets go, 50 million ‘non muslim ‘ settlers to start . Also an warning to any one thinking on those lines.

  6. This is how cowards think. Those who are defeated in their own minds, people like Vij, come to the table with loser’s mindset. Here is how I see the Kashmir issue getting resolved. First, get rid of the Muftis, the Abdullahs and the Azads from J&K by any means possible. Next, ensure rapid development of J& K with the rest of India. If India becomes a 10 trillion dollars economy by around 2030, there will be a massive gap in the standard of living between our J&K and POK. We will then leverage that difference to instigate a movement in POK to want to join India. All the while, we should do everything possible to empower the Baloch Nationals to get independence, we have a lot more in common with them than the wahabi radicals in Islamabad. I will take my chances with this approach instead of giving up on POK now. I am not in any hurry to convert LOC into a permanent border.

    • This vij is illiterate or what! He doesn’t know the religion angle between two countrues. Europe more or less are of same religion or they didn’t had religious issue.

      • Because The Print does not have enough money to hire intellectuals like you or they are getting anyhowhow your valuable opinions for free.

    • I am anxiously waiting for the GDP to hit $ 10 trillion. People will be able to eat Parle G biscuits to their hearts” content.

  7. Rightly stated. However, Kashmir conflict is not going away easily. The world in the grip of nationalistic fervour and there are many possible scenarios waiting to unfold. For instance, in the years that follow BREXIT – if it happens at all – will Scotland breakaway as an independent nation? OR will EU experience more exits? If these scenarios in the seemingly staid Western world become realities, they will have a profound impact on the subcontinent. There is a ‘Loch Ness Monster’ waiting to reveal itself.

    • Rightly stated!! He is acting dumb. And his most write ups are not based on any research. Why the print keep this joker?

    • Please tell me what have you been smoking? It seems to be good stuff. We can all do with that kind of escapism from the reality of our country right now.

      With you around, the BJP doesn’t have to worry about winning elections for the next 50 years- a period of missed opportunities and an endless night.

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