I still go back in memory lane to reflect on my undergraduate days at a local University in Zimbabwe. My lecturer in Peace, Conflict and Development used to teach us that, there were three chief causal factors of conflict in Africa and the world over. Ranging from the following countries Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique, Chad, Tunisia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Chile, Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Israel, Palestine, Serbia,Herzegovina, Croatia, Philippines, East Timor, Pakistan-India and on some countries too many to mention, the triggers of conflict seemed to be the same. In his words, these three main conflict triggers included abuse of resources, struggle for resources and abuse of power.
However, even after my studies I developed a keen interest on the India-Pakistan dispute. The border dispute between these two countries has been recorded in the history books as among one of the longest standing conflicts in the history of humanity. As I try to research and read deeper into the genesis of this border dispute, I am left more confused and shocked to say the least. Many questions have flooded my mind and i guess, they will also flood your great minds too.
I have always enjoyed watching Al Jazeera for some personal reasons. Generally, I just like their motto which reads “We show the shots being fired and we show the shots landing”, meaning to say they always give a balanced reportage if not an objective coverage of conflict situations. According to the Al Jazeera, it is reportedly believed that the Kashmir dispute was sparked by a 70-year-old Indian grandmother (from an Indian border town of Churunda) who decided that she wanted to spend the rest of her days living with her sons in the disputed province of Kashmir.
Little did she know that she had lighted the matchstick that resulted in the clash between these two nations.
The 70-year-old granny is reportedly to have managed to penetrate the heavily defended “line of control” that separates the Indian and Pakistani armies on the Kashmiri border. By so doing, she was responsible for igniting the flames of the dispute between India-Pakistan as reported by Al Jazeera. Personally, the narrative surrounding the old granny’s adventures has pointed out that the old woman wanted to re-unite and stay with her sons who lived across the Pakistan controlled area of Kashmir. Unknowingly, the old granny had sown the bitter seeds of a conflict that has proved to be one of the longest drawn disputes among sovereign nation states.
It is believed that the ease with which she penetrated the defences was seen as a major breach by the Indian authorities, who are always on the look-out for weaknesses in their security that might be exploited by Islamist terrorists. Al Jazeera reports that “the Indian army began building new observation towers, which in turn prompted the Pakistanis to respond by firing a barrage of mortars across the line of control”. Events later followed each other in haste. As of now fighting over the Kashmir province is still ongoing. However, the question still remains whether the old granny was solely responsible for sparking the Kashmir dispute.
Arguably, the old granny narrative might seem to some of us, as another ‘conspiracy theory’ in the making. As I reflect on the triggers for the Kashmir dispute I am convinced there were some other deep-rooted animosities, tensions and mistrust between India-Kashmir, beside the old granny narrative. As we search for alternative track two diplomacy strategies to end this conflict, let us be reminded that we shall continue looking at the bigger picture. Let us not forget that it is the small things (either hate language or actions) that trigger conflicts as shown in many trouble spots world over.
But surely, if it is the 70-year-old granny who sparked the Kashmir border dispute, let her actions be forgiven. For she did it unintentionally, it was for the love of her children. So let peace, love and harmony prevail in Kashmir. Let all the actors involved symbolically honour the old granny’s love for unity, peace and togetherness. In unison let them exchange roses instead of missiles.
“Peace begins with me, Peace begins with you, and Peace begins with all of us” (The late Vice President John Landa Nkomo).