A familiar estrangement

It was a familiar Republic Day in Kashmir. Government put in place a tight security bandobast in Srinagar and the other major towns of the Valley amid a now customary shutdown on the day. And by and large the tenor and the content of the speeches were along predictable lines. Governor N N Vohra cautioned against lowering of the guard on frontiers and the Rural Development Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar called for the need to settle Kashmir through dialogue. Earlier in his televised speech on the eve of Republic Day, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told separatists to open channels of communication with the Centre to find solution to Kashmir in the larger interest of the people of the state. While this has once again come as a reminder that at a fundamental level there is little that has changed in Kashmir, what has further added to the bleakness is the recent reverses in Indo-Pak relations. The two countries have deferred their dialogue. Pak-India water and power secretary level dialogues which were due to begin in Lahore from January 28 have been post-poned.  New Delhi stopped its secretary from participating in talks with his Pakistani counterpart. Already, the bus service and trade across the border in Jammu remains suspended. And all this is happening at a time when the situation in the sub-continent is in a state of geo-political flux with US preparing for its scheduled 2014 exit from Afghanistan and also Pakistan and India preparing for their respective national elections in 2013 and 2014. Any break in the bilateral engagement between the two countries at this time has, therefore, the potential to breed fresh estrangement between them and further setback the already elusive goal of peace and reconciliation. And Kashmiris have traditionally been the biggest losers of the lingering tension between the neighbours. We would therefore fervently wish the two countries to get back to their normal engagement. And while it will be difficult to make it completely immune to the incidents like Mumbai and the skirmishes on the border, the two countries need to adopt a mechanism to handle and negotiate their fallout.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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