..the Kashmiri Muslim perspective on Kashmir
Dr. K came home to dinner; his wife was away at their home in Kashmir with their children for the summer, he could not get away and we thought it would do him some good to sample home food.
“Everyone who can, lives out of Kashmir now”, was what K said.
Election results had just come in. As the television screen gave the latest seats tally, K laughed mirthlessly.
“I have never voted. No one in my family, my wife’s family and our extended families have ever voted. None of us have a voter’s ID card. Actually, I do not know many people who have a voter’s ID card anyway. So, how do they get even 26% people voting?”
Interesting question. So, I decided to ask a straight question.
” What will happen in Kashmir? What do you want? India, Pakistan or Azadi?”
K was thoughtful. And then he spoke; he is nothing if not a pragmatist.
“Look, I doubt people want to go to Pakistan. No one is a fool; they understand Pakistan is in a bad shape; aligning with them is not smart.” So, you want Azaadi then, I goaded him; is this what the Kashmiris want?He was silent for a while and then he said, “Look, is it prudent to want to be a landlocked country with 3 hostile neighbours?” 3? Maybe only India? “No, no”, K remonstrates, between mouthfulls of Roti and Dal; “Pakistan will be as upset (perhaps even more than) India if we get Azaadi!” And, China? Who wants China as a neighbour?
So, if it is not Pakistan and not Azaadi, it is India then? K falters, but only briefly. “Iskaa hul nahi hoga; this will remain a problem even 50 years later, you see”. Why? “Too many people are making too much money in Kashmir and it’s troubled situation. A solution does not necessarily help them”.
We talked of Sajjad Lone; “a discredited man; uska to abhi khatam hai”. The Abdullahs; “do you know if Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah did not rig the polls in 1989, this terrorism problem would never have arisen?” The Muftis: “what’s their credibility?”.
I asked K; do you agree that Nehru blundered by going to Security council? Of course, he did. “International Law and legitimacy toh baad mein, pehle to zameen lo”. My sentiments exactly!
There is no normal life in Kashmir; says K. Schools are closed most days. Government does not function. Army is everywhere; tourists are staying away and everyone who is crooked or is a politician (these are not necessarily disconnected sets, I interject and K laughs) is making money.