New ‘Track-II’ initiative

The centre is reportedly working on a Track-II engagement with "all stakeholders" in Kashmir. The new team may be announced when an all-party delegation visits the Valley in early September. Over the past week, there have been some indications to this effect. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has talked of "a permanent and lasting solution to the problem within the framework of the Constitution". Modi's belated expression of pain, repeated in his Mann ki Baat on Sunday and a promise of the dialogue has come as an indication of a change of approach towards tackling the Kashmir crisis. The home minister Rajnath Singh who was in Kashmir on Thursday only cemented this perception saying that the centre was "willing to talk to anyone within the scope of Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat". However, Centre hasn't so far announced as to what form the engagement with Kashmir, if any, will take and whether there is a plan to rope in Hurriyat. As of now, New Delhi has yet to express an explicit desire for dialogue with separatists, choosing instead to club them with "all stakeholders". But considering the cosmetic and unproductive nature of similar engagements in past, New Delhi is unlikely to find any serious takers for its delayed outreach. The likely appointment of a new Track II team in the wake of the ongoing upheaval smacks of a knee-jerk reaction, a recourse to a treatment that has been tried and rejected several times before. The new team will be only following in the footsteps of their predecessors, trick by trick. If the goal is truly a solution, this calls for a fundamental shift in the strategy and the practices adopted so far. The immediate priority, in any case, should be to draw separatists into a dialogue which they believe in. A dialogue that creates a sense of incremental progress towards some goal. As things stand, this certainly is not even remotely the case. New Delhi, it appears, continues to be in the management mode. But as the ongoing uprising would have you believe, Kashmir has moved far beyond this stage

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