Whether it be Muridke or GHQ in Pakistan, a consistent refrain has been that the “death and sacrifice of so many Kashmiris will not go in vain”, a formulation that keeps the separatist movement going despite setbacks. That the carnage is the consequence of the intervention of Pakistan in matters relating to that state has been passed over in as great a silence as the reality of Pakistan “fighting India to the last Kashmiri”. The people of Jammu & Kashmir are of the highest quality, and till the 1990s were known for the moderation and tolerance that suffuses the practice of those who follow the true faith revealed by Prophet Muhammad more than 15 centuries ago. However, especially since that period, Wahhabism has taken root in some parts of the state, most notably the valley, with the result that there has been a dimming of the glow of Kashmiriyat. What is needed is to revive that glow, so that the people of the state, especially the region of Kashmir, be empowered and enabled, especially to join the Knowledge Economy in their millions. Across India, Kashmiri students have excelled in studies, and have revealed a character and disposition far removed from the stone throwers and wielders of AK-47s that GHQ desires should be their fate. During the 1990s, there were photographs of Bill Clinton in several separatist homes in the Kashmir valley, so full throated was the US President’s backing for the jihadi groups activated in the state by the ISI. Clinton appointed as Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robin Raphel, a known admirer of the Pakistan military, who had as a special friend covert war specialist Shafquat Kakakhel, who was clearly diligent in ensuring that the US official adopted as her own Rawalpindi’s position on J&K. Together with US diplomats fired up by Raphel, diplomats from European countries made it a practice to visit Kashmir on “inspection tours”, joined by charming representatives of international NGOs, who specialised in assuring separatist elements in the valley that “their voice would be listened to” within the NATO alliance, and that India would be “forced to surrender Kashmir” thanks to pressure from the major countries of this alliance, which since the fall of the Soviet Union has been searching for a justification for its hyper-expensive existence.
Given the high degree of involvement of the ISI in Kashmir, including with a few elements of the local police, those who trigger public resentment by disproportionate and heavy-handed actions that serve the interests of Pakistan, it is vital to ensure that any false hopes for separation from the rest of India dwindle and die rather than be kept alive. In such a context, Chief Minster Mehbooba Mufti needs to take a leadership role in telling the youth of Kashmir the truth, that accession to India is a settled fact, which no other country or combination of countries has the power to alter. That they would serve their and their families best by congregating in classrooms rather than on the streets, and picking up books rather than rocks and other projectiles. Those responsible for motivating some of the young in the valley to take to such deeds of protest know that they are destroying futures in an impossible enterprise. However, so long as cash from the ISI comes to fund the lavish lifestyle of the separatist leaders, they will continue to seek to create chaos in Kashmir. Hence the need for CM Mehbooba Mufti to be unequivocal in her condemnation of ISI-sponsored agitations and her call to the youth in Kashmir to return to the path of progress and sanity.