Interlocutors – please be clear
They need to make a new beginning
IMPRESSIONS BY BINOO JOSHI
One more question has come to haunt Kashmir. Who is scripting its future. We are told that three interlocutors, appointed by the Centre, have got some kind of the divine right to pen down the way our future should look like. That may be true, as they are wise people. But, the main question is : Do they themselves have an idea as to what they have to write about Kashmir, its people, their problems and solutions. It seems that they are as much confused as we, ourselves are. It is not to challenge their intellect or capacity or to write beautiful English, or their capacity to grasp the seriousness of the issue, but they themselves are betraying the traits of fighting among themselves, at least on the common minimum programme that they are to suggest or propose for the future of Kashmir, a complicated issue.
Their “ ball to ball commentary” might have changed the discourse in Kashmir, as Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made us to believe so. How? That is beyond our comprehension. The slogans : “ We want freedom” are not being heard in the streets of Kashmir, stone pelting has taken a break or the tourist season has got extended beyond mid-June or Amarnath pilgrimage is safe, or panchayat elections have been held so successfully that it has triggered altogether a new hope.
At least, I don’t remember in any of the talks of the interlocutors that the panchayat elections should be held before those were announced or conducted. A silent study of the things, interaction with the people of all walks of life, giving them a sense of participation and, not repeating what has already been spoken or written, was the least that was expected from the eminent people, Dilip Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M M Ansari. That’s precisely what has not happened.
Instead, the interlocutors focused their attention on suggesting to the government, how it should arrest or release the stone throwers, and how the police should function and who all are the stakeholders. It was given out as if the state did not have any clue on what to do and had reached a dead end. From the basics of political science and reconciliation process, I understand that there are certain tools to conduct the dialogue and draw the conclusions. As far as Kashmir is concerned, what’s clear to everyone is that there are regions, sub regions, ethnic groups, internal and external players and where lines of conflict of interests and ways to solution become so distinct at times and blur completely on other occasions.
There are myriad ways of dealing with a particular situation, but Kashmir is not a situation. It is a combination of so many situations, which have acquired dimensions of a high conflict in hearts and minds, travels beyond the day to day economics or politics, military presence or otherwise, elections or otherwise, shutdowns, guns and import of foreign trained groups or otherwise. Some of us are in habit of talking about the pre-1947 status of the state, uniting the territories, realistically looking at the geography and political landscape of the state the way it exists today, that is even remotely possible. It ‘s easy to talk about the fall of Berlin wall or reunification of the areas, which are not even in the control of Pakistan or India. China is having its own stakes. It would be too risky to suggest an answer to this, because the political dynamics are far beyond the comprehension of the strategic experts or the students of geo-politics of the region.
Leaving big things aside, let’s focus what we have. The part of Jammu and Kashmir with India. Sorry to say, but the fact of the matter is that, even the so called mainstream parties of the Valley, be it National Conference or Peoples Democratic Party, or the leaders of the national parties -- CPI-M, Congress (some of whom have come from National Conference which was once the champion of Plebiscite for Jammu and Kashmir under its existence as Plebiscite Front for 22 long years) have not been able to decide on the finality of the accession of the state to India. The accession in unique circumstances, conditional or it is not a merger, may be technical terms, yet these are there in the minds of the people. The lack of clarity in their minds and words only helps those who, day in and day out, challenge the status quo. There is an urgent need for political honesty and clarity and the stands should not change with the change of the governments at the Centre. An ally today cannot become an enemy tomorrow, may be good politics, but reading the pages of history should not change with the change of the political equations.
Separatists in Kashmir--They are as much Kashmiris as others are. They are as much concerned about the future of Kashmir as others are. They have their own politics. Certain accidents on Kashmir’s journey in the past 63 years have thrown certain opportunities-- chances, is a better way to put it, their way. They, with the help of the powers that always wanted to see trouble in Kashmir, showed that they, too, commanded something in the Valley and beyond. Sometimes the clock shows that they are the most relevant people, and on other occasions, they don’t figure at all. This lack of consistency causes more confusion. Neither meeting with separatists is an end itself, nor it would ever be.
The best teacher is the one who makes front benchers and back benchers to feel alike in the class room. The interlocutors have yet to achieve that goal. They need to make a new beginning. Sorry to say, so far their contribution, has been repeat of what five working groups said so far. Their reports are gathering dust, and the report of the interlocutors, if Mr. Padgaonkar is to be believed, is yet to be submitted, but his colleague M M Ansari says, the interim report is already with Ministry of Home Affairs. Let them be clear about their report, before they script Kashmir’s future.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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