Mapping the Edges

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 People who express anger constructively may provide listeners with a rapid, exact and comprehensive description of their grievances and needs. Unfortunately, this kind of anger is quite rare, here in Kashmir.
Sometimes, Ideology seems to be an important element in our intractable conflict.
Fact of the matter is, Ideology gives rise to (and is generated by) the story that each side tells to itself and others about the conflict. This story contains crucial elements that can either perpetuate or resolve conflict: the identity that each side awards to itself, the history and future of the Kashmir, generates the explosive emotions connected with the conflict.
Though adherents to an entrenched narrative may resist even verbal changes, But changes in the treatment of the issue and its accompanying narratives can change the nature of the conflict. After all, it is not “what” you say, that is important but “how” you say the same thing has assumed significance.
Let’s face it: So far we have done a lousy job of communicating ourselves! And we have only ourselves to blame. Communication means creating, shaping, publicizing, enhancing or changing public attitudes and perceptions.  How can entrenched narratives be changed? Stories that express hidden emotion may be a beginning. Straightaway comes the obvious question, “But is there any such thing as Kashmiri public opinion?”
If there is none, “It’s time for us to create it.”
It is also long past the time when we should have realized that half the population is under-20. And those who belong to that half of the population have seen enough politics and many battles, have experienced humiliation and have watched helplessly as their contemporaries in the other parts of country, Asia, Europe and America move forward in pursuit of their dreams. Our young also want to learn, to be educated, to have a say in their society, to assume responsibility and to play the role of honest and, upright citizens. Throughout the Kashmir Valley, young men and women are discussing these issues. They are concerned about their future and their place in a changing, globalized and highly competitive world. They possess skills and talent and are second to none but their skills and talents must be nurtured and developed. The sad truth is that many of them — and with them, their societies — have been denied their dreams because of incompetent political leadership, rampant corruption and simple greed. We cannot afford to continue losing those talents. If it does, it will sink even further into darkness than it is today. And that will be the end of us.
It is time for constructive dialogues in our society. It is time for the dialogues to be heard and not only heard but evaluated carefully and intelligently before being acted upon.  Let us communicate better and feel deeply heard. Opinions must be formed upon and thus debate generated.
If leaders are not yet ready to make the move, then it is our responsibility, the civil society of the area, to make them be. After all, it is our children’s future we are talking about.

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