Baluchistan and Kashmir: Whose unfinished agenda?

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No component of the Independence Day’16 speech from the Red Fort has merited so much attention as the reference to Baluchistan .It is characteristics of the way a communication which lasted over an hour, is covered by the media and the commentators. Nearly ten days down the line the reverberations are can still be heard of a debate which, to begin with, had very little to say. However, now, with three Baluchis involved, reportedly, being charged with sedition, for having praised the PM, the matter is not going to fade away soon.

No one is denying the significance of the reference to Baluchistan. It was a defined embellishment to an otherwise predictable narrative which is heard year after year. What was said in that reference, was prima facie, quite innocuous, because the Prime Minister was only expressing his reaction to the way people of Baluchistan have referred to him recently. Seemingly, it is innocuous and can hardly be seen as a threat of any sort to anyone. That it has been put to use that way is perhaps, best understood by the kind of critique that a handful of people have made of it.

The writer has been in and out of Jammu & Kashmir at least since 1978, when he was invited  to deliver the key note address of what was perhaps the first seminar in Kashmir University on the freedom struggle in Jammu and Kashmir. The then Chief Minister of the Riasat Sheikh Abdullah had on the eve of the Seminar hosted a party at his official residence in Lal Chowk.  Gracious as always, when I thanked him for the role he has bestowed upon me in the Seminar, he responded by saying “In years to come your generation will have the responsibility of taking this forward. I see you as their representative”. Little did I realize, then, of how prophetic would his word would be.

Through the years, my association with both Jammu and the valley widened and deepened in many manifestations. This is not the best place to recount the crests and the troughs. It has, nonetheless, been almost continuous, giving an occasion to interact, both, with the high and mighty and he lowly and the non-descript of the suba.

I have been at a loss to understand the extraordinary focus the various episodes of south Kashmir and some other places have received. The CM is reportedly of the view that not more than 5% of the state population is involved.

It is true that  the state of Jammu and Kashmir consists of a large number of ethnic groups from Bakkerwals of Rajouri and Poonch areas to Mongoloid tribes of Ladhak. The religious diversity of the entire state makes it, by definition, an essay in sanguine tolerance. Notwithstanding some well-known strife episodes during the Dogra rule in Srinagar, the state has been remarkable stable and tolerant. They have not only shared among themselves the productive processes of the Suba, frugal as they have been, but also, in their shared habitat respected each other’s core believes and essential fabric of the economy.
Not many people realize how Kashmir valley has been the cradle, at one point, of time of Shaivite  creed and it is comparable only to the way the valley has nurtured Sufism. The growth of Buddhism in Ladhak and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu, Katra are realities which would be obvious even to those who do not wish to see.

The Prime Minister was right in giving a political message to political saber rattling from across the border-not withstanding some usual pseudo liberal use of free speech within India. What is sauce for the goose must clearly be sauce for the gander. Jinnah’s military resolution of Baluchistan tribal autonomy, is a fact which no amount of propaganda can erase. The resistance the Baluchis have offered to integration with Pakistan is a tell-tale story. The Prime Minister did not politicize the movement of dissent. If there was a hint of such a possibility, it was most appropriately subtle and totally ‘un-stated’.
Accordingly, it’s difficult to understand how a hand full of people could be comparing the going ons of Kashmir integration with India to how Baluchistan was handled historically by the state of Pakistan.

The purpose of this text is not a judgment on the political merits and demerits. The purpose is to underscore how ethnographic and anthropological realities that determine the growth of decision making institutions. Social reality is the seed bed of the control of the decision making process.

No other country in the world has ever been created to placate religious appetite. That partition of India was an essay in this direction can be explained variously.

However the ground truth remains: any partition does not solve a problem, it only bisects it. 

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