Kashmir and Nagaland Will Not Be Kosovo

Declaration of Independence by Kosovo and its acceptance by some states has raised a new dilemma for multi cultural and multi ethnic societies as India. With festering sores in parts of the Sub Continental giant seeking self rule, Kosovo's declaration portends many controversies in the Year ahead.

Yet the fundamental difference between Kosovo and the situation obtained in Kashmir or Nagaland two of the most deeply entrenched separatist movements in the country, gives confidence that these provinces will not break away. The fundamental reason for this remains the contrast in national philosophy. India is not as much a state as a civilization comprising of many communities, ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions. The Constitution of the country decrees upon its citizens to co join and cohabitate rather than dissipate. On the other hand, Kosovo is an attempt at mono ethnic state formation which is far removed from the Indian experience.

What is more is that Indians from those parts which were feeling alienated are coming together after years of estrangement, recognizing that only multi ethnic societies have survived and prospered in the World. India and China are the two salient examples each boasting of 5000 years of history. The United States on the other hand shows how despite a short span of state formation, a multi ethnic society, can be a primary economic and political power in the globe where a second generation American as Obama can aspire to be the President. Such an accelerated rise to the top cannot be imagined in a monotheist society. And more and more people are realizing that they cannot survive in states which are community ghettos.

So have the Kashmiris rejected an insular society. On the Maha shivratri day, Kashmiri pandits were joined by their Muslim brethren in a newly developed colony on the outskirts of Srinagar in Badgam district to celebrate the festival. The human tragedy of Kashmir is indeed quite grave. Yet greater transparency indicates confidence in civil society of the State's intent to reduce suffering by insisting on accountability. Nagaland on the other hand has gone through a process of state elections which is representative of the will and aspirations of the people. Preliminary results have revealed that those parties which fought on the agenda of Nagolim or its closest equivalent envisaging creation of an inclusive Naga state have not benefited from propagating this in their election agenda.

Separatist movements in these states are now hostage to warped institutionalization, where those who are at the forefront of the agitation have hijacked the original will of the people to foster their own agenda. On the other hand the factor of continued external support cannot be overlooked.

In Kashmir for instance reports of the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) having imposed a, 'tactical pause' has possibly led militants to buy arms from the underground arms network which may substantially drop their strike potential. Yet there is a need for caution for a former militant leader and an over ground activist is reported to have told Hindustan Times: "When I was in Pakistan last year, I asked ISI officers why they keep sending militants to Kashmir despite the ceasefire and the Indo-Pak dialogue. Their answer was: We cannot dismantle our infrastructure which took us 50 years to put together."

The United States, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnel also clearly indicated, 'The IC (intelligence community) assesses that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and other Kashmir-focused groups will continue attack planning and execution in India. Shia and Hindu religious observances are possible targets, as are transportation networks and government buildings." This was also confirmed with reports of terror groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Harkat-ul-Jihad-Islami pooling resources and now guided by the Al Qaeda. . India's National Security Advisor indicated this trend at the Munich security conference thus, 'Al Qaeda's elite terrorist network such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Islamic Jehad Group (in Central Asia), the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami and the Taliban (in South Asia), the Jemiah Islamiah and the Abu Sayyaf Group in South East and East Asia represents an intricate web of terrorist networks. They have forged common funding structures, common training curricula and have a common resource for obtaining explosives and weapons'

The Indian policy establishment has thus to be cautious rather than having false hopes of immediate clamp down on militancy by the new government in Pakistan, even if it is led by the PPP. A popular government in Islamabad may not find it easy to enforce effective counter terror measures at the very outset as normally political parties tend to follow a more populist agenda to overcome the incumbency factor of the previous regime.

The snowy slopes of Gulmarg this month were once again festooned with gaiety and colour as the 5th Indian Winter Games were held 8700 ft above sea level. This is just the second time after militancy in the Valley since 1989 that the Games are being held. Eighteen teams from Jammu and Kashmir the host state, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, New Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab with 500 participants make these the largest Games so far. Hopefully this idyllic winter and the elections in Nagaland would represent a new dawn for the people of these states. 


More by :  Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle

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