Jaffer Abbas Mirza
First of all, I would like to congratulate India and Pakistan because Kashmir dispute is now a part of Guinness Book of World Records for being categorized as the largest militarized territorial dispute currently on the planet. Both countries have fought three wars but the prevalent stand-off over Kashmir will continue for centuries, if the two rivals keep sticking to a non-resolving approach. Arguably, pressure groups play an important role. Right-wing group, in both countries, are considerably a big obstacle in the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
In India, the rising hardline nationalists are becoming threat to its own stability and ideology – secularism. In 1923, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his pamphlet ‘Hindutva: Who is a Hindu’ argued that a Hindu state should be established in India to promote the political, cultural and religious supremacy of Hinduism. By following Hindutva, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – a Hindu extremist party – disseminated radicalism in world’s largest democracy. Considerably, it is the parent organization for hardliners in India.
The current prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi was an ex-member of RSS. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is highly influenced by RSS’ ideology (Hindutva). BJP vowed to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. Integration of Kashmir has become dogma for BJP. It claimed:
“Jammu & Kashmir’s integration with India is an essential part of the ideology of Bhartiya Jana Sangh and now the BJP”.
It has been pressurizing and attacking various people who propose Kashmir’s solution. The recent attack on Aam Admi Party’s (APP) office is evident when Prashant Bhushan proposed a referendum for demilitarization of Indian-occupied Kashmir. However, BJP denied all allegations while condemning Prashant’s proposal.
In Pakistan’s case, right-wingers have always perceived Kashmir dispute through the scope of religion rather than taking it only as a territorial issue. Jamat-i-Islami (JI) is the prominent right-wing party which always sways the masses utilizing its rhetoric on Kashmir for decades. JI has always been unsuccessful in winning the majority of seats in elections but, it has never failed to sabotage Kashmir’s peace process.
Countering Indian oppression in Kashmir, Pakistan adopted the policy of state-sponsored Jihadism. It patronized various militant groups such as Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and others to achieve its strategic goal of driving out Indian forces present in Kashmir. Lashkar-i-Taiba is notorious for conducting terrorist attacks in India. Moreover patronization of militant groups has resulted in the radicalization of Pakistani society because when you grow vipers in your backyards then you are sure to get bitten someday.
One cannot ignore the role of right-wingers of both countries in sabotaging peace process in Kashmir. They should realize that they are jeopardizing the lives of millions of innocent Kashmiris. In the end, it is a common Kashmiri who is paying the price of their imprudent decisions and politics.
Arguably, Kashmir dispute is now beyond the sphere of civilian governments in both states. Apparently, right-wing pressure groups, usually with the support of respective armed forces, want animosity to flourish and wish to keep this dispute unresolved. In the presence of these pressure groups, I do not see the possibility of any positive development. For a major breakthrough, shift in mindset is sine qua non for Kashmir’s peace process.
The author is a researcher at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs and he tweets @mirzajaffer.
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