By Kamran Ashraf Bhat
Plagued by protracted conflict, Jammu and Kashmir has been mired in political uncertainty and instability for decades. In a controversial move, the Indian government decided in August 2019 to rescind Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave the region special autonomy. As a result, Jammu and Kashmir came under direct central government control and the Legislative Assembly was dissolved. Still, the prolonged holding of new Assembly Elections in the region has raised concerns about its potential impact on the stability and security of Jammu and Kashmir.
Postponing Assembly Elections in Jammu and Kashmir will have far-reaching consequences, especially given the precarious situation in the region. First and foremost, the absence of an elected government creates a vacuum in government structures and gaps in decision-making mechanisms. The region is now governed by appointed lieutenant governors rather than by popular elections, thus lacking the due authority and accountability of an elected government. As a result, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are deprived of proper representation and voice on issues that affect their lives, making them more susceptible to making decisions that are not necessarily in their best interest.
The prolonged postponement of Assembly Elections has created a deep sense of separation and alienation among indigenous peoples, especially in the Kashmir Valley, and has reinforces historical marginalization. The lack of democratic mechanisms only fuels this mood and can lead to disillusionment, frustration and even radicalization among the local population. Such marginalization carries a great risk of conflict and violence within the region. It is essential to understand that a robust and inclusive political process is essential to effectively address public grievances and ensure meaningful participation in decision-making. However, late assembly elections have undermined this important aspect, preventing resolution of long-standing problems facing the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Extended assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir have hampered efforts towards political normalization in the region. Given the complex political climate characterized by the presence of various political parties representing conflicting interests and ideologies, the lack of a functioning assembly has hampered important processes of political engagement and dialogue. The result is a fragmented and unstable political environment in which competing interests and ideologies vie for control. The impact of such a situation could potentially exacerbate political tensions and further destabilize the region.
In addition, the postponement of assembly elections in the Jammu and Kashmir region has had a serious impact on security. The region is in an ongoing security crisis, with cross-border terrorism posing significant threats. The lack of a stable political framework and effective governance creates loopholes for elements to use the unstable situation to foment unrest. Security forces tasked with maintaining law and order in the region also face challenges, as there is no democratically elected government. As a result, Jammu and Kashmir is vulnerable to security risks, hampering efforts to bring lasting peace and stability to the region.
Moreover, the long postponement of assembly elections has significantly hampered socioeconomic progress in Jammu and Kashmir, exacerbating the region’s long-standing problems of underdevelopment and limited economic prospects. The lack of stable governance has hindered the formulation and implementation of effective policies aimed at meeting the region’s development needs. As a result, there is a lack of investment, business opportunities and job creation, further exacerbating the socio-economic vulnerability of local people in Jammu and Kashmir.
In summary, the postponement of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir has had a significant impact on regional stability and security. The lack of a democratically elected government has created governance gaps, caused disillusionment among local people, hindered the political normalization process, and posed security risks. It has hindered economic progress and increased regional vulnerability. Therefore, it is important for the Government of India to prioritize the timely holding of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kamran Ashraf Bhat is a researcher specializing in film and cinema studies at Bahcesehir University’s department of Cinema and Television in Istanbul. His written work focuses on topics such as geopolitics, geostrategy, environmental issues, and social matters.
Courtesy Muslim Mirror
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