All party delegation (APD) that visited JK on 4th and 5th of September ended on an insignificant note. It could be said that it was much ado about nothing. It had failure written all over it, as it did not have a set agenda to pursue. Given that some of the members in their parliamentary presentations had spoken of the need to reach out to people of Kashmir, they had obvious constraints, wherein addressing the issue within the Indian constitution remained mandatory. The resistance leadership was not ready to engage with APD, given their constraint of not venturing beyond Indian constitution. An engagement within the Indian constitution rules out Pakistan as a party. And, it is highly doubtful whether keeping out Pakistan would result in a lasting solution. Or, it would produce a solution, which could have the backing of overwhelming majority of people of erstwhile state of JK, as it existed in 1947.
It needs to be borne in mind that Kashmir dispute involves people across LoC and not merely people in Indian administered Kashmir (IaK). Indian constitution, as it stands does not apply to people across LOC—Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB). In IaK, constitution of India in its present form has been applied by gradual erosion of terms of accession. The erosion by political manipulation remains a bone of contention. The manipulation was made possible by violating democratic norms, such as fake elections. Many Indian commentators have shed enough light on how elections were faked and democratic norms violated. The charges on many an occasion have been voiced on the floor of Indian parliament, even by members of present ruling dispensing—BJP. Finance Minister—Arun Jaitley, who leads the party in Rajya Sabha counted the democratic mishaps committed by Congress during its long rule, while replying to leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha—Ghulam Nabi Azad.
BJP did not opt for all party delegation for nearly two months after the present uprising started in early August. Only when it was felt that things were slipping out of control in Kashmir did the BJP opt for APD in an effort to make opposition parliamentarians partners in their moves to counter the uprising. Some parliamentarians did express doubts on the timing. An earlier effort might have resulted in better dividends, ran the argument. Whether it would have made a difference or not, the fact stands that BJP's late effort was meant to absolve the party of total blame, should the situation worsen? Even at this late hour BJP did not commit itself to talk to all stakeholders. Instead of a government inviting the resistance leadership for talks, Mahbooba Mufti sends an invitation in her capacity as PDP president. Sending an invitation on behalf of government would have meant involving her allay—BJP, a move which her partner did not relish.
Mahbooba Mufti–had she some conscience left or a sense of fair play should have known long back that BJP cares little for 'Agenda of Alliance (AoA)'. BJP does not consider AoA worth the paper it is written on. Otherwise, it should have had no objection to assign its signature to the invitation sent to resistance leaders, given the fact that talking to Hurriyat and Pakistan is a part of AoA. And, once it is accepted that talking to Pakistan is imperative, it entails acceptance of the fact that Pakistan is a party to the dispute. It also means that a solution to Kashmir dispute does not fall within the realm of Indian constitution. It implies going beyond what India might like to hold as sacrosanct. Instead of sticking to AoA, Mahbooba Mufti is left high and dry to go alone and invite resistance leaders as PDP president, and not as CM of JK State. And with BJP distancing itself from the invite, as Home Minister–Rajnath Singh implied by evading a question on it by NDTV's Barkha Dutt, the invite lost its value. BJP and by implication GOI was not serious on starting a dialogue. The insistence on dialogue staying within the premise of Indian constitution made it doubly sure that there were no takers.
As already noted APD remains a ruse worked out by BJP to get the opposition on board, in order to make them partners in its failure to check the rising resistance in Kashmir. Though Burhan Wani's death precipitated the mass uprising, BJP had by its aggressive posture caused an already alienated people to reconsider their future prospects in the given political dispensing. PDP by getting BJP on board in the alliance, contrary to the party's posture during electioneering provided BJP and by implication the Sangh Parivar space to work on its known agenda on Kashmir. PDP's hopes of having a smooth sail in power by accommodating BJP—the preferred party of two and a half plain districts of Jammu were soon belied, as the Sangh Parivar's political wing started working on its agenda by string of measures with PDP watching helplessly, proving thereby that sticking to ministerial chairs, even though devoid of real power remained its priority. It has precipitated a situation where people feel compelled to review their future and force a resolution of long pending Kashmir dispute within the framework of international agreements to which India and Pakistan are signatories.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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(Author is doctor in medicine, a social activist, and a senior columnist)