BY Promod Puri
Apple and oranges don’t mix. They grow in separate regions and in separate climates. They have separate shapes and separate tastes.
Jammu grows oranges, sweet and juicy. Kashmir grows apples, luscious and crispy. Put them together in a box. And market it as a product of Kashmir. That is simply deceptive labeling. It should be marked as a product of Jammu And Kashmir.
And that is the same subtle difference when Kashmir and Jammu are packaged together linguistically, socially and politically. And the entity is stamped as Kashmir.
The packaging is done and marketed by Kashmiri political traders.
As such the Kashmir issue in its present outlook does not justify to be the basis of the agenda of talks between India and Pakistan.
The simple but mostly ignored reason is that the colloquial ‘Kashmir issue’ is not representative of all the diverse regions of the state, as well as those held by Pakistan. The occasional violence erupts only in the valley, not in other parts of the state. We seldom hear about political protests and fury in Jammu or Ladakh regions, or even for that matter in Pakistan-controlled “Azad Kashmir”.
The entire Kashmir leadership is controlled by Kashmiri-speaking politicians and activists. There is no representation from the other regions of the state such as Jammu and Ladakh.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is extensively diverse: linguistically, culturally, religiously and geographically.
Ignorance of this reality generates the impression that everybody in the state is Kashmiri-speaking. The same applies to “Azad Kashmir”. Nobody there speaks Kashmiri, nor do they identify culturally with the Valley.
Unless a correction in the “Kashmir problem” is made to recognize the diverse realities of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, only then it can be discussed among all the concerned parties. In its present avatar, the Kashmir Issue itself is unrealistic, undemocratic and monopolized.