Separatism finds a voice in elections
Indeed, the Kashmiris desiring separatism have finally realised that democracy is the only true way to get themselves heard. Sajjad Lone’s courageous decision should be welcomed and yet taken with a pinch of salt.
Sajjad Lone says and I quote, "I undertook a detailed study and put forth a Vision Document, "Achievable Nationhood", which has enshrined a legal, political, and economic set of undeniable prescriptions that I believe articulate an attainable way forward for the people of Kashmir, India and Pakistan. I have advocated for the achievement of a completely new state of affairs in Kashmir that encompasses all our sovereign aspirations, rights and responsibilities towards a bright, just, and prosperous future."
What makes him think that Kashmir cannot have a bright prosperous future within the bounds of Indian constitution? I do not believe that Kashmir needs to be a sovereign state for its people to progress or to fulfill their ‘kashmirihood’. The feeling of being a Kashmiri comes from racial descent and not political identity. At the same time, they do have this identity which is solely their own. But they also have a larger shared identity – that of being an Indian, which they need to be proud of.
Indian democracy gives enough space to people to express and fulfill their regional aspirations. Maharashtra, and Gujarat formed in 1956, after being carved out of the state of Bombay, is an example. A Marathi and the Gujarati stand proud as they communicate in their mother tongue, and allow their cultural, political and economic ambitions to flourish as they embrace both the Indian and regional idenitity. Kashmir can be as progressive. The Kashmiris have to realize that they cannot spoil the dreams, lives and ambitions of their younger generation for creating an entity which will never be secure or as progressive or stable without the bounds of Indian constitution. If states like Pakistan can fail, a smaller state in Kashmir’s geopolitical area will be swallowed whole by China or worse, become a putty in US or other foreign hand -like Iran or a muslim power.
It is in the Kashmiri interest to engage in a dialogue for its people, for the realization of these ambitions. Thus, Sajjad Lone has to be applauded and welcomed for his decision taking part in the democratic process. At the same time, he must also come with an open mind. A mind which is willing to create a greater future for the poeple of Jammu and Kashmir, greater and better then any separatist movement ever would.