August 11, 2010


So, what will the Kashmiri people accept?: After very hard and acrimonious bargaining they will ultimately settle for unadulterated autonomy, which will allow them the right to rule themselves, within the Indian Union (Gurmeet Kanwal, 8/11/10, IST)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appears to have at last realised that it is time to deliver in Kashmir and has come out strongly in favour of a healing touch. He has spoken of feeling the people's 'dard aur mayusi' and has expressed his anguish over the recent killings in Kashmir Valley.

He has appointed an expert group headed by former Reserve Bank of Indiagovernor Dr C Rangarajan, with N R Narayana Murthy, Tarun Das, P Nanda Kumar, Shaqueel Qalander and an official representative of the J&K Government as members, to formulate a plan for creating new jobs in the state. However, he has stopped short of also appointing a political interlocutor to unconditionally resume the stalled dialogue with Kashmiri political parties representing all shades of opinion.

While the prime minister's initiatives are a welcome development, the situation in the Kashmir Valley continues to be grim and is reminiscent of other revolutions in recent memory. In February 1986, the Filipino people restored democracy through the People Power Revolution. In 1989-90, Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement in Poland beat back the mighty Soviet Union's tanks. The citizens of Czechoslovakia shook off totalitarian Communist rule in the Velvet Revolution. The victory of the Ukrainian peoples' Orange Revolution represented a new landmark in the history of peoples' movements for democracy. The Cedar Revolution in April 2005 ended the Syrian military occupation of Lebanon after 30 years. The Nepalese revolution next door is the latest manifestation of the power of the people.

Clearly, there is a lesson in this for India. If the Kashmiri people come out on the streets of Srinagar, Baramulla, Sopore, Kupwara, Anantnag and half a dozen other towns like they did in 1988-89, in today's mega-media age, it will be well nigh impossible to keep Kashmir by force this time around.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 11, 2010 6:12 AM
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