Hina in India
She came and left, Kashmiris kept watching
VIEWPOINT BY JAVAID MALIK
First female Pakistan Foreign Minister, Hina Rabani Khar, landing in New Delhi on her maiden visit created furore in entire India. Many were surprised to see the “soft face” of Pakistan and a few were left dumbfounded. They did not know how to react.
For a moment it seemed that media had forgotten why she had come to India, as most news channels and websites were discussing her dress, style and glamour. It was for the first time perhaps in past six decades that media houses instead of discussing the agenda of the Indo-Pak talks were discussing Hina as a person. It seemed as if the 32-year old young female Minister had cast a spell over Indians.
As the media was busy discussing her, she made her first move by meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders. She met chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in New Delhi. By the time meeting ended, perceptions and headlines of news channels and websites had changed. ‘Pak Foreign Minister meets Kashmiri separatists.’ How could she do this? It is breach of protocol and much more…… Despite the media clatter, she maintained her composure and seemed unmoved. "I don't think this (meeting) was anything new. Every Pakistan Foreign Minister who has been visiting India has been engaging with them," she said.
Among dignitaries first one to react to Hina’s meeting with separatists was the former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai. "The leaders from Pakistan usually meet Hurriyat leaders. It is no big deal but it would have been useful had she met Omar Abdullah rather than meeting the separatists who represent just a section of the society."
The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also joined the chorus saying, “Pakistan should talk to leaders from mainstream parties also. Separatists are not the only leaders in Kashmir.”
The next day she met her counterpart 77-year old Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna and both addressed a joint press conference after the meeting. The Foreign Ministers announced a few confidence building measures like increasing the frequency of Srinagar-Muzzafrabad bus service, increasing number of cross LoC trade days and reiterated that they would keep on talking. They announced that Kashmir issue also came up for discussion and parleys are on.
Before winding up her visit she offered obeisance at the famous Shrine of Hazrat Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer Sharief and flew back.
On her arrival in Pakistan she addressed a news conference saying “Both the countries stuck to their respective stands but maintained that peace should be given a chance.”
She emphasized on the need to carry forward the uninterrupted, constructive and positive dialogue process to resolve all outstanding issues and normalize relations between Pakistan and India.
“India and Pakistan have sought to open a new chapter of peaceful and cooperative ties by pledging to intensify counter-terror cooperation and unveiled a host of initiatives to spur trade and travel between the divided halves of Kashmir,” she said.
Hina Rabani Khar came and left. Pakistan welcomed the developments and India also acknowledged that talks were productive. Hina’s visit generated enthusiasm in Kashmir also. Kashmiris had not pinned much hopes on what would be the outcome of talks but the amazing look of Hina and her style had made them curious.
People of Kashmir have never opposed the talks process as most of them believe that Kashmir issue could be resolved through parleys but the fact is that India and Pakistan have been talking to each other for past six decades and till date no headway has been made to resolve the Kashmir issue. Ministers have come and gone but nothing on ground has changed.
Today India and Pakistan are talking about normalizing the relations but can these get normalized without resolving Kashmir? Or is it that they want to forget about Kashmir and move ahead? These questions do haunt a common Kashmiri.
There is no doubt about the fact that India is progressing at a very fast pace and on the other hand the Government in Pakistan is finding it very difficult to handle the internal mess within the country. It seems Pakistan by softening its stand is once again following the slogan of the former President of Pakistan Parvez Musharaff “Pakistan First.”
The present dispensation in Pakistan maintains that whatever Musharaff had proposed stands nullified and it has got its own policy. The Pakistan Government claims that its Kashmir policy is unchanged at least on paper. When it comes to giving speeches on Kashmir, country’s top brass leaves no stone unturned to claim that its stand vis-à-vis Kashmir is unchanged. Apparently it seems that Pakistani leaders are indulging in mere rhetoric to save their face. They seem to lack guts to call spade a spade like the former Pak President Parvez Musharaff. He had made it clear that implementation of UN resolutions would be difficult task but he had always maintained that “Out of Box Solution” is needed to settle Kashmir issue. During his tenure he made every possible effort to get Kashmir issue resolved and normalize the ties with India. When he was in power he candidly used to admit that resolution of Kashmir issue was must for normalizing the relations between the two countries.
It is unfortunate that some people in Pakistan think that they have a done a great job by appointing charismatic lady as a Foreign Minister and she can resolve all the issues, including Kashmir. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has gone on record saying that appointment of Hina Rabani Khar as Foreign Minister would project a “softer face” of Pakistan.
The “softer face” of Pakistan no doubt has earned many fans in India as well as in Kashmir, but the fact remains that Kashmir issue cannot be resolved by making fans or by just holding a “superficial meeting” with the separatists. It needs an effort that too a sincere one.
Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has quiet often reiterated that boundaries cannot be changed and the former President of Pakistan Parvez Musharaff also seemed to hold the same opinion. He had mooted a four point formula which the present dispensation in Pakistan seemed to have dumped either out of animosity or the reasons best known to it.
Both the countries need to realize that indulging in rhetoric won’t lead to any solution. Need of the hour is to work towards finding a practical solution which would be acceptable to all including Kashmiris.
High profile visits by the leaders of both the countries, never ending talks and holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir to elect a Government to take care of the local affairs won’t resolve Kashmir. Leaders in Pakistan should realize that Kashmir is a burning issue and they cannot keep on fooling their people and Kashmiris by just giving statements and by announcing a handful of confidence building measures.
Statements and experiments don’t last long. Practical steps aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue are the need of the hour. Both the countries have realized that war is no solution. Leaders need to show sincerity and move ahead. Inclusion of Kashmiri leaders in dialogue process is must. Let us hope both the countries realize that Kashmir is not about land only it is also about the ten million Kashmiri people who want to be heard.
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Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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