Is a generational shift in Kashmir really important? Critics of Indian rule shrug off the forthcoming change in chief minister, arguing that real progress can only come when internationally monitored elections take place. Pakistani analysts say that without the participation of separatist politicians, voting is merely a sham. Seasoned observers of Indian bureaucratic politics wonder whether a change at the top can really drive new policies. Not so. Fresh policies will take time, but fresh faces can be drafted into the new government. And it is not impossible that ministers could come from parties other than the ruling National Conference – even separatist parties.
Kashmir: Generating Change?
By the middle of this month, a transfer of power will have taken place in Indian Kashmir. State assembly elections will see the ruling National Conference sweep back – but the chief minister’s office will pass from Farooq Abdullah to his son, Omar. Amongst the separatists, who reject India’s control, older leaders are also beginning to give way to a younger, and sometimes more pragmatic, set of politicians. Despite limited initiatives from Delhi, and continuing opposition in Pakistan to Kashmir’s status, it is on the cusp of change – generational change.