Why Kashmir’s political uncertainty will persist in 2020 and beyond


The analysis of Kashmir’s 90-year political history i.e., the period from 1930 to cusp of 2020 reveals a cyclic pattern in which significant political events took place after every 30-year period. I chose to call these events as Kashmir’s 30-year cyclic political turbulences. The first such event was 1931 revolution against Hindu Dogra regime that had been ruling Kashmir since 1846. The 1931 people’s revolution was first significant political struggle launched by Kashmiris in almost 400 years.  The 1931 people’s movement depletedsignificantly Maharaja’s ruthless authority over Kashmir. However, due to glaring mistakes made by National conference led by Sheikh Abdullah that in later years spearheaded the movement, the 1931 revolution could not succeed according to People’s aspirations. Subsequently, in 1947Kashmir became part of India and in the process erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir got disintegrated into two disparate parts. To this day, the July 13 is celebrated as martyr’s day in Kashmir in memory of the martyrs of 1931 revolution, but in reality the aspirations of that revolution remained unfulfilled due to mismanagement of Kashmir based politicians.

The next major event that occurred 30-yearsafter the 1931 revolution was 1961 holy relic movement. In 1961, the relic of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) mysteriously disappeared from the Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar Kashmir. This event led to massive uprising against the corrupt regime of BakshiGulam Mohammad, the prime minister of Kashmir at that time. There were undercurrents of rebellion however already building up against Bakshi regime that was patronized by New Delhi. The 1960’s people’s movement led to downfall of Bakshi regime but also motivated Pakistani military to launch the operation Gibraltar in Kashmir. The purpose was to infuse military muscle to Kashmiris popular dissatisfaction with New Delhi. Even though the operation Gibraltar failed it, however,became precursor for1965 India Pakistan war. The war ended in statuesque, and with the signing of Tashkent agreement Kashmir issue remained temporarily frozen. It is interesting to note that during the 1965 war, Pakistani military formation led by general Akhtar Hussain Malik made significant incursion into Poonch-Akhnoor sector that almost succeeded in severing Kashmir from rest of India. But, due to a last-minute change in command to infamous general Yahiya Khan,Poonch incursion  failed. The poor strategic decisions made by the same Yahiya Khan later became instrumental in the creation of Bangladesh.

Another major event that occurred 30 years later in Kashmir were the events of 1990’s. The year 1990 is significant in many ways. firstly, Kashmiris perhaps far the first time  after suffering defeat at the handsof Mughal army took arms to fight for their aspirations. Secondly, Kashmiris suffered massive human, social and material losses. The year 1990 was also instrumental in shaping the polity in Indian from central left to Hindutva right that currently rule India. Yet, the most significant cyclic political event to have occurred in last 90-years are the events of August 5, 2019-2020again after 30-years. The revocation of Article 370 and last remnants of token autonomy may be one of the most significant cyclic turbulences to have struck Kashmir since 1931. The next 30-year cycle i.e., the period from 2020 till 2050 will be a period of great trials for Kashmir and its people. The shadow of that turmoil will be revealed in 2020. The suspension of article 370 unilaterally initiated by the government of India also marks a major shift vis-à-vis Kashmir as never before had Indian government deliberately triggered an event in Kashmir with such great pitfalls. For example, the 1931 revolution was triggered by Kashmiri people, the series of events that occurred until 1947 including tribal invasion of Kashmir, signing of the accession treaty with India, and landing of Indian army into Kashmir must be considered unexpected outcomes of 1931 rebellion. Likewise, the series events after 1961 including the operation Gibraltar followed by 1965 Indo-Pak war were the outcomes instituted by the disappearance of holy relic from Hazratbal shrine, again a Kashmir centric and Kashmir led event. The armed rebellion in 1990’s followed by a series of other developments such as 1999 Kargil war, operation Parakram, the Balakote strikes, and many other events werealso unexpected outcomes of 1990’s armed insurgency. When I analyze all these events one thing stands out very clear which is the origin of 30-year cyclic events were centered around Kashmir and originated in Kashmir. It is for the first time that we see the source of new 30-year cycle that began with suspension of article 370 originated in Delhi. The unexpected outcomes of this major event may be much more fateful and gruesome.My anticipation is August 5, 2019 will certainly be remembered in the history of India and Pakistan as an event that not only brought two countries at the brink of war but made war between two nuclear armed countries inevitable. I am sureIndian establishment will quickly realize through soon to follow series of political events as pitfalls of article 370 suspension that being practically an occupation force is no easy task for any country notwithstanding how powerful the country is militarily. The US and Israeli occupation of Iraq and Palestine respectivelyiscontemporary examples. In the 21st century,it is easy to deliver impression for semblance of normalcy but hard to impose and maintain military occupation of people in highly globalized World.

The views expressed in the article do not represent that of the institution where author works. Author writes routinely on social, political and environmental issues

Dr Mumtaz Balkhi is an academic researcher who has authored several high-profile publications




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