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Learning from Pulwama and meeting the challenges it implies

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A few years ago, at a seminar on the J&K conundrum in Islamabad, a prominent Pakistani politician told a group of participating Kashmiris from this side of the Line of Control that Pakistan was suffering from “Kashmir fatigue”. More recently, a former chief of an Indian intelligence unit was quoted as having said that “Pakistan has given up on Kashmir” in an interview published a little before Pulwama. Similarly, officials of the “international community” are frequently heard saying that while they sympathize with the plight of Kashmiris, they cannot intervene on a “bilateral issue”, as if to embrace the Indian state’s “sincere” (not in the sense of “truthful” but of “overt”) propaganda – that there is no dispute over the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The tacit argument embedded in these reactions is: why should the voices of people disturb state to state liaisons?

It took one terrifying, though isolated, bombing (the second in thirty years) that killed more than 40 paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama to derail these self-satisfied complacencies. An immediate reaction within various parts of India was to target innocent Kashmiris away from home. Less than two weeks later the bombing had spawned shoot-outs in the skies above India and Pakistan. Suddenly, the world media was abuzz with fear, as most of India’s mainstream media was gung-ho with war talk.

Reactions in South Asia and beyond

On February 25th, The Guardian chided the global community for its “nonchalance” and other outlets once again began to quote former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s twenty-year old prescient statement that Kashmir is “the most dangerous place on earth”. Even as your columnist writes this, The New York Times Editorial Board (March 7, 2019) has issued a dire headline warning that “[South Asia] Is where a nuclear exchange is most likely. It’s not North Korea”. No doubt to the consternation of New Delhi, the Editorial Board went on to assert that “…the United States needs to get involved” to curb Human Rights violations, citing the U.N. reports. Some international political commentators even published rushed suggestions for resolution.

In Kashmir, many of us immediately recognized that Pulwama was going to be........

© Greater Kashmir