India at the moment is at the receiving end of a propaganda war that it should itself be familiar with. With the simple abrogation of an act provided in the constitution, India has now officially absorbed Kashmir on their side of the line of control. The Indian media is all gung ho about it and the Pakistani whip up the international rhetoric. The fact, however, is, for those of us who are not part of the dispute, Act or no Act, Kashmir within the line of Indian control was always under Indian control since the first Indo-Pakistan war and whatever its special status meant for the people of Kashmir, long drawn out tensions in that territory had actually resulted in the wholesale migration of Hindus, in the marginalization of Budhists in its northwest and in the radicalization of the local Moslems posing severe security strains on India itself. One can only hope that the ultimate absorption of the state into the Indian republic and the removal of Kashmir’s special status will augur in peace in that state and not, instead, exacerbated the tensions there. Tensions there are, though, and the Indian media would make out that things are in control. Propaganda doesn’t work these days since even the Indian citizens cannot be isolated from the international media.
The Nepali audience for the Kashmir stage is by and large neutral. For us, the line of control, which was one of Nepal’s first international peace missions, was real. Indian Kashmir was India’s and Pakistani Kashmir was Pakistan’s. Real politics had forgotten the prescripted plebiscite and the issue was really one of power politics. What justice it did to the population didn’t really matter since it escaped the conscience of the political players then and evidently continues to do so now. To a large part, the final absorption that took place last week, should best be felt by the population as the Indian government says it will. Otherwise, deletion of a few lines from the Indian constitution becomes a matter of semantics to be played politics with, the people notwithstanding. How it effects Kashmir on the Pakistani side of the line of control somehow cannot escape international focus. The people, after all should have been the focus all along and not just the territory. The vicissitudes of power politics escapes the people at times is something that the Nepali population must be impressed with in time.
How such power politics impacts on the media play and how such media play is managed by countries is being very well demonstrated by Kashmir coverage in India an outside. It is this that the Nepali population is being thoroughly briefed upon. No longer is their an official line here to be towed by a monopoly media. The Nepali media is outdoing itself in reach and coverage to the chagrin across the border. How India is managing its Kashmir politics is another matter for media students to focus on. The conduct of Indian politics, too, comes into focus and there is much here that their Nepali counterparts should learn from. In so many ways, it is the media that teaches too. In so many ways, power politics forces itself in the learning process as well. How the Kashmir play will ultimately run out, if, that is, it really does out becomes a matter for serious talk in Nepali intellectualism and the subject is not being dismissed as trivial and distant for reasons that are not altogether invalid.