Reorientation needed
Published on April 18, 2017

It is really unfortunate that the situation in Kashmir has once again been allowed to go haywire. While external scape-goating may help the State and the Central governments to shift blame on Pakistan, but fact of the matter is that not everything could be blamed on the external machinations. Internally there is a lot that could and should have been done in the aftermath of the 2016 uprising here. But nothing was done to arrest or address the anger and alienation here. And the result is that Kashmir is once again on the boil.

Politics aside, general perception with vast majority here is that the valley is “directly micro-managed by New Delhi”, and the fact that a local elected government is in place makes no difference. This is so because the unfortunate reality is that the local government is there, but its writ is not. Those comprising politico-administrative set-up from bottom to top are there just to receive fat pay packets by the end of each month, while their output in terms of contribution to the peoples’ welfare is an absolute zero. This is perhaps also one of the reasons, if not the only or the major one, for the popular distrust with the government and its systems here. Having seen everyone doing whatever pleases him or her, without anyone showing any sense of responsibility or belonging whatsoever to this place and its people, popular pessimism which has seemingly become a marked trait of general population, seems more than justified.

When PDP decided to forge an alliance with the BJP in the early spring of 2015, despite all the skepticism about the success of two ideologically different parties sticking together, some people still believed in this experiment for it had pledged bringing North and South Poles together for the welfare and development of this place and its people. And more than anything, PDP promised help in facilitating resolution of the bigger political questions concerning the state. However, over two-and-half years later, PDP seems as helpless before the Centre as have been its predecessors. Neither has it been able to do much for the progress and development of its core constituency – the Valley -- nor is it allowed to do anything about the bigger political questions.

The State government may have no doubt got some money for developmental activities from the Centre but the problems in Kashmir, as everybody knows and the PDP itself has asserted many a times, go beyond economics and can’t be wished away by doling out money. Indeed PDP’s helplessness could be gauged by the fact that despite it being in the ruling chair, it is the junior coalition partner BJP which has been calling shots and serving its interests while PDP’s interests have been clearly undermined. Interestingly, whatever the blames of failures, it comes on PDP’s face; and there certainly are many! Today when people are unhappy with the government, it is not the BJP but PDP which is at the centre of public criticism, anger, hate and ridicule.

As for the situation, it is more or less exactly the same as it was in 2010 when Omar Abdullah’s NC was in the hot seat along with the Congress. Despite being in power for two-and-half years now, PDP has hardly brought about any change in the political status quo even though it had pledged a lot on this count. Neither has it been in any way instrumental in nudging Delhi towards ‘less belligerent and more reconciliatory’ approach towards Pakistan nor has it been able to facilitate any meaningful engagement between the Kashmiri separatists and the ruling establishment at the Centre.

Today many senior party leaders readily confess that unlike its coalition partner, PDP has thus far not been able to secure its interests. Some have even gone on record to suggest ending this alliance if the situation continues like this. PDP or for that matter even NC and other mainstream parties must understand and start believing that it is not in New Delhi but the real source of their power is among their own people in Kashmir Valley. Once they do so, it will surely help them reorient their politics accordingly – for then, one may hope that they would at least be able to secure people’s life here.

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