The question remains
Sixty-three years on, no straight answers
IMPRESSIONS BY UDAY SHANKER
“Many people in the United States – and many in partner countries that have sacrificed so much – have a simple question: What is our purpose in Afghanistan? After so many years, they ask, why do our men and women still fight and die there? They deserve a straightforward answer.”
This was one of the sentences of President Barack Obama when he unveiled New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in March last year.
Although many in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ‘s government may simply say that it’s ridiculous to compare Kashmir with Afghanistan or Pakistan, yet there is a genuine question in the minds of the people: what’s government of India’s policy on Kashmir .
They deserve a straight answer as well.
It is because it matters to them. When they watch TV channel and read newspaper reports about trouble in the Valley , they ask: why it so there. These questions expand: why the Kashmiri youth and women are holding protests and pelting police and paramilitary forces with stones, why there are demonstrations in the middle of night, why children and youth are getting killed in firing by security forces. And more importantly, they want to know truth about Kashmir.
Unfortunate, as it is, the Indian people have been misled. Not only by the government but by media as well. The government is a culprit. It has never tried to grasp the whole truth about the situation , because its eyes and ears are the men and women who have their own individual agenda. There is worst sort of competition among these eyes are ears, that the only truth that emerges out of that is that they kill the spirit of truth.
The Indian media is a bigger culprit. In the media where men and women love hearing own their noises and are dominated by self-publicity seeking individuals. They think that the whole pain of Kashmir has been summed up by their walk down the curfew-bound lane or two in Srinagar. Then, there are taxi time experts. This set of sponsored individuals become specialists on Kashmir in 15-20 minute drive from airport to their hotel room, from where they rarely step out. These experts write articles in the newspapers as if they are the final word on Kashmir, some time they don’t have an idea where Lal Chowk is.
On thing that should be clear to men in South and North Block that most of them would say what their masters would like them to say. They are singers whose lyrics change with their masters They are not important.
It’s the people who are important. Their leaders have time an again shown a tendency to support and then thwart the dialogue. Engaged , as they are, in politics of competition , to grab power, they have spoken about their ambitions , camouflaging them as aspirations of people.
While turning the pages of recent history of Kashmir, certain facts came to light. Those read something like this .
In 2000, when a direct dialogue between Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen and the Government of India opened, some one sabotaged it by sending journalists and photographers to the Nehru Guest House at Chashma Shahi, where first round of talks, which incidentally became the last round too, had begun. The whole area is out of bounds for commoners. No one could venture there without the official permission. If there was a laxity on the part of the security guards,. Who patronized that. It was the Farooq Abdullah government that time, and the dialogue was taking place against the backdrop of the autonomy resolution passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly having been thrown into dust bin by the National Democratic Alliance government. The National Conference government in Jammu and Kashmir was fuming with anger of this. It was a revenge moment.
PDP-Congress alliance came to power in 2002. The then Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed told a gathering in Ganderbal then the constituency of giant killer Qazi Muhammad Afzal wh had defeated the then National Conference president and chief ministerial candidate Omar Abdullah, and who now stands consumed by the Amarnath land row agitation of 2008, had asked militants to give up guns. He had promised them that he and other “ elected representatives” would talk on their behalf. Anyways, the dialogue between separatists, known as moderates led by Mirwaiz Muhammad Umar Farooq started in 2004. It lasted till the NDA government lasted. It’s rather ironical that when PDP’s ally Congress came to power at the Centre with other parties, known as UPA, the dialogue got buried for 18 months. And when it was resurrected, by that time Mufti Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad were locked in a game of retaining, and gaining power respectively. The dialogue was nowhere on the agenda.
Then came the Azad government, which promised to transform the developmental landscape of Jammu and Kashmir. It ended with setting the state on fire. It also went into a fancy of Round Table Conference, trumpeted as a unique idea to resolve the Kashmir issue. Three Round Table conferences were held, two in New Delhi and one in Srinagar. The reports were submitted a long ago – the days have passed into weeks, weeks into months and months into years, but nothing has happened to pick up the reports and study the recommendations or implement them. Nothing at all. The same is the status today as well – one wonders if the Government of India has any intentions to find answers – it should make a sincere effort to do because the flames left behind by the Azad government in Kashmir two years ago are leaping higher.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 9 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 9 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 10 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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