Alex Stein’s prognosis of another crisis of Indian rule in Kashmir just before the 2008 protests

From Guardian: “Free Kashmir?

“My visit to Kashmir last week was overshadowed by that of a rather more illustrious visitor, the Indian president. During what was supposed to be a routine trip, President Pratibha Patil was greeted with a general strike, as well as clashes with troops in the state capital, Srinagar.”

“We want to convey to the Indian president that the Kashmiri people are against the Indian occupation of Kashmir,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. While relatively low-key, these protests should serve as another warning to India not to ignore the will of the Kashmiri people, who have for too long found themselves caught in the crossfire of the two regional powers, India and Pakistan.”

“Rule from Delhi, however, has left the Kashmiris – almost to a man – singularly determined to achieve independence.”

“Because of India’s tremendous soft power in the world, the Kashmiri question (beyond the nuclear implications of the India-Pakistan stand-off) is unlikely to enter the world’s consciousness in the same way as Tibet or Palestine. This potentially makes it even more dangerous. The Indian government is making a mistake if it believes that the relative recent calm and increased prosperity in the state means that a status quo is setting in. All it takes is a cursory look to see that the vast majority of the people want independence, or at least hugely increased autonomy, not to mention a withdrawal of troops.”

“People often forget that, before the first intifada, the West Bank & Gaza experienced a greater growth in GDP than Singapore. Despite expectations to the contrary, prosperity did not dampen nationalist fervour, and it only took an accident involving a military vehicle to start the uprising. The same goes for Kashmir, which could once again prove to be India’s Palestine.”

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