Consolidating the Delhi-Srinagar Dialogue
WE NEED TO SHIFT FROM SECURITY TO A POLITICAL PARADIGM IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR
KASHMIR POLITICS BY DR GULL WANI
In the preceding column on strategic shift in india-pakistan I had taken into account the changes underway in bilateral relationship of two countries and the need for taking the process forward. I further argued that on Kashmir many things are doable and need to be done to change the optics and atmospherics around the region. It is very important to understand how process of re-engagement can begin in Kashmir especially in the context of lukewarm response to yet to be released interlocutors report on Jammu and Kashmir.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s meeting in Delhi with Kashmir committee members is significant and has generated some optimism in the air. What is important to underline is how to consolidate the Delhi-Srinagar track of peace process especially at a time when the need for it may crop up at any time in the immediate future. The strategic shift we saw earlier in Kashmir was of course result of peace process during 2002-2007 period which helped the people to make a transition to peace from violence. There is also a belief that ideology of military conflict has no place in the paradigm of our relationship in the 21st century and should be replaced by vocabulary of dialogue. In order to graduate to a durable architecture of peace certain steps need to be taken in Kashmir so that enduring peace prevails.
Shifting the Security Paradigm:
There is near consensus among stakeholders that we need to shift from security to a political paradigm in Jammu and Kashmir State. In this context revocation of AFSPA is being discussed. The recent killing of Altaf Ahmed Sood at the hands of Central Industrial Security Force picket at Uri and that of Ashiq Hussein Rather at Rafiabad is horrible. I was asked by one of my students only after these killings as to why Indian state treats peace as war in Kashmir and really I had no answer to that biting question. The fact is that militarism is not equivalent to patriotism. Militarization is a culture that legitimizes use of force. It is only after an atmosphere of security is created in Kashmir that people’s capacity to think objectively can be enhanced. One of the worst things to happen is the disproportionate influence security and strategic experts have come to exercise on matters related to Kashmir to the exclusion of politically oriented advisors. The security and strategic importance of Kashmir has in a way become the flagship programme of ill-informed experts. Every debate and discourse on Kashmir is framed in security terms undermining the all important debate on human security. The language of strategic significance of a place reduces the idea of home and watan to moveable pieces on the chessboard. It is a language that is not peopled. It fails to understand the profound grief of a society that lost its equilibrium. To get rid of it we need to temper the power of the entrenched security establishments and retrieve the space for a larger political discourse. The huge and unwanted presence of coercive apparatus in the state has implications on governance as well. In present times grievance and governance related issues have come to the forefront and in a way changed the discourse. Much anger in Kashmir is rooted in the grievance factors like discriminatory treatment meted out to the state due to the award of Indus water treaty. Mehbooba Mufti, president of People’s Democratic Party claims that what oil is to Arab countries water is to us. On 30th September 2011 government on the floor of Legislative Assembly informed that 71445 kanals of land are under illegal usage of army. Again, civil society in Kashmir is aghast at the fact that not a single F.I.R was registered against the forces for 2010 killing. The arrival of 17 lakh country tourists and 6.5 lakh yatris in the year 2011 without any problem should help us in opening the debate on all greed, grievance and governance issues. This involves obviously need for a comprehensive dialogue without any gimmicks.
Institution of Dialogue:
The institution of dialogue needs to be kept not only in order but sufficiently visible as well. The problem with Delhi-Srinagar route of dialogue has been that it gets activated only in a situation of expediency and crisis. Even the appointment of interlocutors took place in the context of 2010 killings. Again if the Prime Minister’s appointed working groups were not able to change things I wonder where and how interlocutors will get in. Delhi - Srinagar dialogue can be only symmetrical and not asymmetrical. It has to be people to people and not elite to elite. So far the latter part has not been explored. The right beginning has been made at Delhi recently when Kashmir committee members led by Ram Jathmalani assured Syed Ali Geelani that we will arrange his meetings with civil society members In Mumbai and South India. Ram jathmalani claimed that interlocutors were deputed by New Delhi and we are not the agents of government of India. He also stated that vexed Kashmir dispute cannot be resolved unless New Delhi shows flexibility. The burden of my argument is that there is a new context of dialogue and past errors and omissions can help in sorting out the accumulated mess. The regime in power in Delhi has to sell any solution to Kashmir to people in different parts of India as well. The Kashmiri separatist leaders will have to engage with people in different parts of India that will certainly prove as cushion for government of India to move forward on Kashmir. The middle class inhabited metropolitan India has turned politically intolerant towards Kashmir. The government of India has also to come out of an ostrich type of an approach and understand that Kashmir is undoubtedly morally isolated from India. In 2011 Ashwariya Rai’s pregnancy took more media coverage than 2730 mass graves in Kashmir. Shockingly, All Party Committee landed in Kashmir at the height of 2010 protests when young boys were getting killed by exercise of disproportionate force of the state and only after Prakash Karat of Communist Party of India Marxist agitated before the Prime Minister. At the national integration committee meeting in Delhi September 11, 2011 Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stated: “don’t treat Jammu and Kashmir traders, students and people with suspicion. Insurgencies are struggles for space.’’ Mehbooba Mufti in the same meeting stressed that unless Jammu and Kashmir is at peace with itself and with rest of region the idea of India will remain incomplete.’’ Mr Saif-ud-Din Soz of Congress Party too has candidly stated that Harriet leaders are honorable people and we can not judge their power only in the Assembly.”
On the other side of border another Kashmir Committee headed by Fazul-Rehman in Pakistan has pleaded for a fresh dialogue. He believes that Kashmir valley can act as a bridge between India and Pakistan. We support cause of Kashmir not terrorism in the region.” It is in the above context that there is a need for providing respectability and credibility to the institution of Dialogue. The evolving climate in and outside Kashmir is definitely promising for taking all doable steps essential for moving forward on Kashmir.
Dr Gull Wani is a Political Scientist teaching at the University of Kashmir
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 Feb 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 Feb 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 19 Feb 2012 00:00:00 IST
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