Kashmiris, like people in distress elsewhere, search for solace in counterfactual thinking. Had Pakistan invaded Kashmir when India and China were fighting a war in 1962, Kashmir might have been liberated. Had Sheikh Abdullah not surrendered before Indira Gandhi in 1974, he would have been leading the insurgency from his grave as a hero. This thinking resurfaced on Wednesday when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) walked out of the government in Jammu and Kashmir, exposing its alliance partner People's Democratic Party, especially the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, to a deluge of dispiriting ridicule on social media.
Mehbooba's rival and former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "How I wish she had left with her head held high and her dignity intact".
She was cutting ribbons while the BJP was cutting her legs out from under her. How I wish she had left with her head held high & her dignity intact! She was J&K's CM, not of the BJPDP. https://t.co/I8NA5lN8pl— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 19, 2018
On Twitter, however, Abdullah was promptly reminded that he was no different; an allusion to his decision to stick to power while putting down a public uprising in 2010 with massive force. More than 120 street protesters were killed, thousands injured and hundreds arrested. This decision, he later admitted, led to National Conference's worst ever defeat in the 2014 assembly election. Expectedly, PDP had at that time asked Omar to quit.
Counterfactual thinking, psychologists have shown, can both be beneficial and adverse. But such thinking always reminds Kashmiris of their incremental disempowerment aided in large part by pro-India politicians during the past seven decades.
By pointing to Mehbooba's infirmity, Omar suggests the possibility of a 'dignified' recourse when faced with tough political choices, even though —when faced with similar circumstances — his party has flinched every time. Therefore, it becomes imperative to read PDP's shabby...