Pakistan retaliated, claiming to have shot down two Indian fighter jets on Feb. Indian sources said that just one Pakistani jet and one Indian jet had been downed, and an Indian pilot taken hostage by Pakistan. Pakistan has since released the pilot , soothing tempers — for now, at least.
The Kashmir issue has caused tension and conflict in the Indian subcontinent since , when independence from Britain created India and Pakistan as two sovereign states. The two countries have fought three wars over the region since. The first, which began in , ended with the partition of Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan under a United Nations-brokered ceasefire. Wars in and ended in stalemate.
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As illustrated in my recent edited volume on the history of this contested territory , Kashmir is a multi-ethnic region with several internal subregions, whose inhabitants have distinct political goals. Pakistani Kashmir consists of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, jurisdictions that want to become formal provinces of Pakistan to gain more political autonomy over their internal affairs. While the first two regions desire to remain part of India, the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley wants independence from it.
The desire for autonomy in different areas of Kashmir has led to repeated uprisings and independence movements. The most prominent is a violent insurgency against Indian rule in the Kashmir Valley that began in and has continued, in ebbs and flows, over the past three decades. Thousands have been killed. The Kashmir Valley has become a militarized zone, effectively occupied by Indian security forces. According to the United Nations, Indian soldiers have committed numerous human rights violations there , including firing on protesters and denying due process to people arrested.
Current Political Situation of Pakistan: Overview Essay
Pakistan also tacitly supports the operations in Kashmir of non-Kashmiri extremist groups like Jaish-e-Muhammad. As a result, consecutive Indian governments have managed to write off unrest in the Kashmir Valley as a byproduct of its territorial dispute with Pakistan. An entire generation of young Kashmiris have been raised during the year insurgency.
They are deeply alienated from India, research shows, and view it as an occupying power. Indeed, the man who under the auspices of Jaish-e-Muhmamad blew himself up in the Feb. The government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto shifted the limits between the acceptable and the subversive, but this strengthened the need to suppress the subversive.
The distinction between state and government thus seems of limited heuristic value, since it neither serves as a basis for a generalization nor entails a proper sociology of the state, which would yield sharper conclusions. That nationalism relies on means of propagation other than print 3 —which is not a novel idea see Chatterjee 73 —leads Ayres to turn to Punjabi cinema to show how Punjabi popular culture tried to reverse a sense of inferiority. The simple categorization of Sindh and Balochistan as rural and tribal overlooks the complex relations between rural and urban areas, as a result of which the changes in urban lifestyles significantly impact rural social structures.
Incidentally, students and educated men with a rural background are often also highly politicised, and at the forefront of nationalist movements. But taking for granted that Sindh, Balochistan and Mohajirs are already formed nations, or ethnic groups, leads him to miss an important element: that nation-formation is a performative process.
Thus, understanding the politics of ethnicity requires looking into the claims to nationhood that ethno-national groups put forward on the basis of historical revisionism and the mobilisation of symbolism, a process certainly not pursued uniformly by all members of ethnic groups.
A many-sided conflict
But as Siddiqui notes, ethnic organisations and their leaders are subject to co-optation by the state, moulding the official standpoint of political organisations over time. A close study of the evolution of the stances of various ethnic political organisations is thus necessary to understand their relation to the state, as well as to show the conditions under which factions unite or fight one another.
But acknowledging that these organisations only claim to speak in the name of the whole ethnic group does not inform us about how others, say persons not affiliated with any organisation, stand in relation to such parties or understand their own identity. Ayres overlooks the cultural hegemony that nationalism imposes on the population that nationalists claim to speak for—as well as the internal resistance that this hegemony may encounter from those it excludes. For instance, one may wonder how Siraiki speakers residing in Punjab feel regarding the Punjabiyat movement or what the reactions of people from various strata of Punjabi society may be.
Ayres provides a general framework to describe how nationalism creates oppositions according to a modular pattern.
Alyssa Ayres brings to the fore a little known movement and has the merit of studying new material. It would also have allowed him to pay more attention to socio-economic conditions or to the cultural content of ethno-nationalist discourses, factors that the focus on the state and the government leads him to ignore. Jaffrelot, Christophe ed. Malik, Iftikhar H.
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A journal promoting comparative and fieldwork-based research on society, culture and politics in South Asia. South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal. Contents - Previous document - Next document. Book Reviews. Outline State nationalism and cultural diversity. Questioning the dominant theory of nationalism.
Intra-ethnic conflict and cultural hegemony. Full text PDF Send by e-mail. State nationalism and cultural diversity 4 The main issue addressed by Ayres and Siddiqui is the relation of the state of Pakistan to the cultural diversity of its population. Siddiqui thus excludes from his study the cultural content of ethnic mobilisation and focuses rather on the role of institutions in inflaming or alleviating ethnic resentment: It does not matter how many ethnic groups inhabit a single society.
Notes 1 On Pakistani nationalist discourses and Islam, see Talbot
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