Fifteen envoys, prominent among them from the US and South Korea , were on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to see the ground situation in the aftermath of doing away with the special status and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories (UTs) on August 5.
Diplomats know from their training and professional accomplishments that the situation can be bifurcated into two sets of study – one that is visible, and the other human behaviour in response to certain decisions. Visibly they were happy that putting Kashmir in the binary of Syria and Afghanistan is not only out of place but also a massive and disastrous distortion of the reality that exists on the ground. That was a satisfying part. They saw there was not even a single trace of what the western media had been writing about the Kashmir situation – imagining a doomsday scenario.
About the human behaviour, they went by what they saw, but did not hear much. The meetings were very few, and dominated by anti-Pakistan narrative and the “good work” that the Centre had done after making J&K, a UT, something that in the overall discourse is not accepted by any one, barring those who have developed a tendency to be shepherded for their own reasons.
The spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar noted that the visit for the envoys was “to see the efforts being made by the government to bring the situation to normal and see first-hand impact of series of steps taken by the local administration to normalise the situation in recent weeks.”
It was obviously to give push to the discourse of normalcy in Kashmir in the international eyes.
An innocuous question, why the GoI wanted envoys to see the process of normalisation in J&K? The mention of August 5 and the situation that followed was taken out of reference .It was mystifying, as the normalcy had come under threat only after what had happened on August 5, which Kashmiris had neither expected nor accepted. Kashmir had a conflict zone of its own, but the restrictions they experienced were a never-before phenomenon – Internet continues to be shut, political leaders, including three former chief ministers are in detention and the overwhelming presence of troops tells its own story.
Indeed, the major threat to peace and normalcy emanated from Pakistan.
Islamabad that had never recognised Article 370 as a link highlighting J&K’s irrevocable relation with India suddenly became champion of the restoration of the special status of J&K. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered provocative speeches at the UN and within Pakistan with a clear design to instigating bigger troubles in the Valley.
Pakistan that had stoked armed militancy and was responsible for several thousand deaths in Kashmir attempted yet again to ignite a fresh round of trouble on this issue, knowing the special status was an article of faith for Kashmiri Muslims.
On January 10 before the envoys concluded their visit, the Supreme Court reprimanded the government on the Internet shutdown, now close to six months, and also took the administration to task for the frequent issuance of orders on the restrictions.
Former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Baig said it very succinctly, Kashmir is calm, not normal.
Normalcy is a vibrant participation in daily life with a promise of assured future.
The roadmap to future is seen in good governance, roads, bridges and economic assuredness on which the administration under Lt-Governor GC Murmu is working. But Kashmiris want more. The Centre should decipher that, before opening the situation for diplomatic analysis.
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