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Kashmiri politicians and burden of unfought battles

It seems that a significant section of Kashmir's mainstream politicians lack the courage and conviction to address the region's challenges head-on
12:00 AM Feb 23, 2024 IST | SHEIKH KHALID JEHANGIR
kashmiri politicians and burden of unfought battles
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The political landscape of Kashmir has long been one of paradox. While the region grapples with a complex web of historical disputes, societal anxieties, and ongoing security challenges, its political representatives often present a picture of disengagement and self-interest.

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This raises a crucial question: are Kashmir's politicians truly serving the people, or are they merely waiting for central leaders like Union Home Minister Amit Shah to fight their battles?

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It seems that a significant section of Kashmir's mainstream politicians lack the courage and conviction to address the region's challenges head-on. Their actions often betray a disconnect with the aspirations of the people they claim to represent, suggesting that their primary motives lie elsewhere.

A damning aspect of Kashmiri politicians' history was their willingness, until 2019, to cozy up to forces across the border, seeking to leverage tensions between India and Pakistan for their own benefit. They spared no effort in this game, often resorting to tactics of blackmail against the Indian establishment. Their public statements and social media posts often appeared strategically aligned with the interests of Pakistan, showcasing a clear lack of loyalty to the Indian nation.

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To understand the intricacies of Kashmiri politics, one must acknowledge the duplicitous nature of these politicians. When in power, they adopted the trappings of royalty, enjoying privileges and wielding authority with impunity. However, when out of power, they quickly adopted the guise of the common Kashmiri, donning traditional attire and engaging in condolence politics to garner sympathy from the masses.

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Yet, this charade cannot continue unabated. To uphold faith in Indian democracy and the integrity of its political system, it is imperative that stringent action be taken against those politicians who have misled the people of Kashmir. Accountability must be enforced, akin to the measures taken against errant leaders in other parts of the country.

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A critical step towards rectifying this situation is the initiation of a thorough probe into the sources of wealth amassed by mainstream leaders. There exists a pressing need to investigate instances of disproportionate wealth accumulation, which cannot be justified by their known sources of income. Such a probe would not only serve to hold these politicians accountable but also send a strong message about the consequences of exploiting public office for personal gain.

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Moreover, the central leadership must assert its authority and demonstrate a firm commitment to rooting out corruption and restoring integrity to Kashmiri politics. This may involve implementing stringent measures to monitor the financial activities of politicians and scrutinizing their affiliations with external entities that seek to undermine India's sovereignty.

Furthermore, efforts should be put in to foster a new generation of leaders in Kashmir, untainted by the corruption and self-serving agendas that have plagued the region for decades. These leaders should be driven by a genuine commitment to the welfare of the Kashmiri people and a steadfast loyalty to the Indian nation.

The reliance of Kashmiri politicians on central leaders to fight their battles is a troubling reflection of their lack of courage and integrity. It is imperative that stringent action be taken to hold these politicians accountable for their actions and to restore faith in democracy.

However, it is crucial to avoid generalizations. Kashmiri politics is not a monolith, and there are undoubtedly leaders who have consistently advocated for the rights and well-being of their people. It is important to distinguish between those who exploit the situation for personal gain and those who genuinely strive for progress and justice.

The emphasis on upholding democratic principles and holding leaders accountable is crucial. However, it should be balanced with an acknowledgment of the historical and political context that shapes Kashmiri politics.

Moreover, a focus on fostering constructive engagement between the central government and responsible Kashmiri leaders is vital. Open dialogue, mutual respect, and a commitment to addressing genuine grievances are essential for forging a path towards a more peaceful and prosperous future for the region.

The issue of Kashmir's political representation is multifaceted. It demands a nuanced discourse that acknowledges the spectrum of motivations and approaches within Kashmiri politics, while simultaneously holding individuals accountable for their actions.

The fight for a brighter future for Kashmir requires not just the courage of its politicians but also the collective action of its people and the commitment of the top leadership to engage in sincere dialogue and address legitimate concerns. Only then can the burden of unfought battles be truly lifted, paving the way for a more just and equitable society for all Kashmiris.

Sheikh Khalid Jehangir writes on Politics, Defense and Strategic affairs and is presently heading International Centre for Peace Studies (ICPS). 

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