Haseeb Drabu the former Finance Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has stated that Jammu and Kashmir shouldn’t be seen as a conflict state or a political problem, but as a society with social issues.
Survival of political parties in Jammu & Kashmir depends upon repeating the lie every day that Jammu and Kashmir is unresolved political issue that has been muddied by Pakistan. Every time there are elections rhetoric reaches crescendo describing Kashmir as a conflict state to reap political dividends. But the fact of the matter is that no political party has ever acknowledged that Kashmir is in this state because political leadership failed to deliver governance. Never ever a main stream political leader stood up to say that political parties, society at large and citizens need to introspect if it is really a political problem or socio-economic problem.
Instead of blaming Delhi for all ills, there is a need to carryout introspection why state capacity to deliver governance has been eroded and compromised? Why institutions of governance have been marginalised? Why same culture and education system that had produced Rajtarangni the most authentic jewel of history have turned rogue and now preaching radicalism? Why Kashmir a known melting pot of civilisation has suddenly become intolerant to even their own brothers and sisters (Kashmiri Pundits)? All these aspects do not suggest that it is a political imbroglio. It hints at the basic root cause of socio-economic fault line. This fault line cannot be bridged by artificially diagnosing it repeatedly as a political problem. At the same time people must ask a question from the political leadership that who created this political problem? People or the politicians?
When Mr Drabu said Jammu and Kashmir should not be seen as a conflict state or a political problem, he is asking people to introspect and not to turn face away from the reality. Students risking their careers, avoiding schools and colleges and getting involved in disruptive activities such as stone pelting, bandhs and boycott of classes are certainly not a political problem but social and psychological problem.
Irony is that successive central governments also followed the same narrative that has been fed by the political class of Jammu & Kashmir. If it is a political issue how is it that Jammu and Ladakh division do not echo same sentiments. If it is a political problem for Kashmir Valley, it should also be same for Jammu and Ladakh division. Whereas both these divisions have always received step motherly treatment from the valley centric political leadership, yet they have not raised guns or disrupted daily life in their regions.
I think time has come to expose the theory of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. The main issue is political accountability, transparency and social neglect by failure to deliver governance. Political leadership of the state has got away without being accountable to the people for the last 70 years. NIA investigation should have widened its scope and all culprits from Srinagar to Delhi and beyond should have been brought to book. Selective prosecution of 12 separatist leaders and leaving out politicians (past and present) and other beneficiaries of the money laundering should have been sent behind bar. Had government done so it would have signalled to the people that political and administrative accountability will be fixed and any violation if so will be dealt with severely.
Mr Drabu has shown character, courage and intellect to expose the political façade behind which successive state governments have hidden and abdicated their responsibilities. A very aggressive response from the politicians and separatists is an indication that Mr Drabu has exposed the façade that had allowed politicians to hide their failure to deliver governance. There is a need to empirically examine the narrative that has come out from the views of Mr Drabu.