Kashmir: Shining example of pluralism, diversity
Ghulam Nabi Fai/ Anadolu Agency
Kashmir is internationally recognized as a disputed territory whose final status has yet to be determined by its people. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and have fought three wars during the past 73 years. This is a matter that urgently needs to be put on the road to finding a just and viable solution.
Any effort to resolve the conflict requires confronting the issue directly and honestly, and it is something that seems difficult for the Indian government to do. India does not want to resolve the Kashmir conflict but to dissolve it. India wants the Kashmir issue to be buried under the rug when the subject is raised by the international community, alleging that it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and no one else’s business. If forthrightness was involved, it could be a strictly bilateral issue.
It may also be mentioned here that India presents a wholly false picture of the situation in Kashmir. The Indian government’s agenda and its various mouthpieces continue to mislead the public about the dispute and Kashmir, appears to be unimpeded.
New Delhi has tried to weave a smokescreen with some unfounded myths, which seek to discredit the genuine struggle of the people. But these ploys will never be able to cover up the reality and sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. India has particularly failingly tried to equate Kashmiri people with fundamentalism. I want to debunk this myth created by India that Kashmir is an issue of fundamentalism.
The term fundamentalism is quite inapplicable to Kashmiri society. A hallmark of Kashmir has been its long tradition of tolerance, amity, goodwill, and friendships across religious and cultural boundaries. It has a long tradition of moderation and nonviolence.
Its culture does not generate extremism or fundamentalism. Its five chief religious’ groups – Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and a small minority of Christians – have for centuries flourished in harmony and mutual bond: no religious ghettoes, no religious apartheid, no economic or sharp cultural divides. All religious persuasions rejoiced at each other’s holidays and times of celebration, attended social gatherings together, lived in harmony as neighbors, and treasured their mutual trust.
The various faiths of Kashmir eschew fanatical or extremist dogmas that distort and debauch their doctrinal origins. Tolerance and mutual respect are their watchwords. For example, Kashmiri Sikhs feature no antagonism towards other religions. Indeed, their trust in Muslims is so strong that they have refused bribes from the Indian army to blame Muslims for the killing of 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura, Kashmir, on March 20, 2000, during then-President Bill Clinton’s visit to New Delhi that the Indian military itself had covertly organized.
Kashmir has been haloed as the land of saints. Its culture embraces diversity and Kashmir has been the confluence of a rich mixture of philosophies and ways of life that merge without losing their distinct identities.