The Broad Mind | Indian Kashmir Steps Away From Violence

If not quite the end of strife in Kashmir, this could be the beginning of the end.

Sushant K. Singh in the World Politics Review (subscription required):

But there is more to the story than the simple lack of violence. Earlier this month, a call for a public strike by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the hard-line patriarchal separatist leader at the forefront of last year’s anti-India protests, evoked a feeble response in Kashmir. Then, for the first time ever, the European Union delegation canceled a scheduled meeting with Geelani, after Geelani led Friday prayers at a Srinagar mosque to pay “respects” to the slain al-Qaida chief, Osama bin Laden.

An even bigger snub to the separatist leadership has come from the Kashmiris themselves. Over the past two months, Indian Kashmir has begun a three-month-long, 16-phase process of local elections, the first in a decade. And in open defiance of the separatists’ instruction to boycott the state-organized polls, more than 80 percent Kashmiris have turned out to vote. More surprising still, almost 90 percent of the electorate in the separatist stronghold district of Kupwara voted during the first round of polling, and the trend has been surprisingly similar in the separatist bastions of Badgam and Srinagar.[WPR]

But there is more to the story than the simple lack of violence. Earlier this month, a call for a public strike by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the hard-line patriarchal separatist leader at the forefront of last year’s anti-India protests, evoked a feeble response in Kashmir. Then, for the first time ever, the European Union delegation canceled a scheduled meeting with Geelani, after Geelani led Friday prayers at a Srinagar mosque to pay “respects” to the slain al-Qaida chief, Osama bin Laden.

An even bigger snub to the separatist leadership has come from the Kashmiris themselves. Over the past two months, Indian Kashmir has begun a three-month-long, 16-phase process of local elections, the first in a decade. And in open defiance of the separatists’ instruction to boycott the state-organized polls, more than 80 percent Kashmiris have turned out to vote. More surprising still, almost 90 percent of the electorate in the separatist stronghold district of Kupwara voted during the first round of polling, and the trend has been surprisingly similar in the separatist bastions of Badgam and Srinagar.