Peace Initiative

The two countries have fought wars over Kashmir and never been able to make peace over it

SOTTO VOCE

SHANTIVEER KAUL

There is an old connection between ripening of fruit and (the concept of) a political moment seized. Allegorical references to ripe fruit and decisive moments are found in scriptural literature of almost all major religions. A decade ago Dr. I. William Zartman of the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University fashioned a critical framework of the concept, taking further previous work on the subject and integrating it in the context of Peace Initiatives. While most studies on peaceful settlement of disputes had seen the substance of the proposals for a solution as the key to a successful resolution of conflict, Zartman pointed out that a growing focus of attention shows a second and equally necessary key lies in the timing of efforts for resolution. He wrote, in a paper published in the Global Review for Ethnopolitics in September 2001, “The idea of a ripe moment lies at the fingertips of diplomats. ‘Ripeness of time is one of the absolute essences of diplomacy’, wrote John Campbell, and continued: ‘you have to do the right thing at the right time’ without indicating specific causes. Henry Kissinger did better, recognizing that ‘stalemate is the most propitious condition for settlement.’ Conversely, practitioners often are heard to say that certain mediation initiatives are not advisable because the conflict just is not yet ripe. In mid-1992, in the midst of ongoing conflict, the Iranian deputy foreign minister noted, ‘The situation in Azerbaijan is not ripe for such moves for mediation’”
This may sound seductively neat in theory, but for anybody watching a long drawn out and seemingly intractable conflict like the one in Kashmir the pudding requires to be tasted first. A native Kashmiri, being in the eye of the storm in a manner of speaking, would be among the hardest to convince of the Zartman Postulate. Zartman holds that: “The concept of a ripe moment centres on the parties' perception of a Mutually Hurting Stalemate (MHS), optimally associated with an impending, past or recently avoided catastrophe. The concept is based on the notion that when the parties find themselves locked in a conflict from which they cannot escalate to victory and this deadlock is painful to both of them (although not necessarily in equal degree or for the same reasons), they seek an alternative policy or Way Out. The catastrophe provides a deadline or a lesson indicating that pain can be sharply increased if something is not done about it now; catastrophe is a useful extension of MHS but is not necessary either to its definition or to its existence. Using different images, the stalemate has been termed the Plateau, a flat and unending terrain without relief, and the catastrophe the Precipice, the point where things suddenly and predictably get worse. If the notion of mutual blockage is too static to be realistic, the concept may be stated dynamically as a moment when the upper hand slips and the lower hand rises, both parties moving toward equality, with both movements carrying pain for the parties”
The problem with this formulation is that it is a binary formulation, both in terms of participation and in terms of possible outcome. It talks of only two participating entities, locked in mutual combat, and the possibility of accommodation between just the two as a likely result. If one looks closely, any accommodation, being a binary intermediate, excludes the possibility of a ‘third’ – either solution or participant. India and Pakistan have actually had several agreements over Kashmir in the six decades and more that have passed by and seen this conflict in stasis although in different levels of exacerbation. None of the agreements or the possible peace dividend they were perceived by the two parties to hold have persuaded them to move substantially away from the respective position they had all those years ago. Whatever movement that has appeared to have been made is merely cosmetic. Is it that India and Pakistan have not had mutually hurting stalemate or have not reached the precipice? 
The facts are actually otherwise. The two countries have fought wars over Kashmir and never been able to make peace over it. The real reason the Zartman Postulate fails in the case of Kashmir is that there is another overlaid conflict – that between India and Kashmir –   which has not been factored into the model. As a matter of fact it may not be possible to factor that into the model at all for the reason that the model itself is binary and, more importantly, the conflict between India and Kashmir is not a classically linear conflict but a multilayered one which is actually beginning to be analysed theoretically only about now. The analysis is happening more in the field than in universities or think tanks and is being done by living people rather than dry, boring academicians. A working model for two binaries to work on the same frequency even while they have different modularity may be one way of applying the model, for a ‘tripartite conference’ has become historically irrelevant in the past decade. We would also require a definition of ripeness that both sets of binaries are informally agreed upon, and last but not the least – the presence of an individual Valid Spokesman for each of the three parties.
shantiveerkaul@gmail.com

Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 19 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST




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