he latest overtures by the Prime Minister of India for dialog with separatists in the Kashmir Valley are bound to fail yet again. These initiatives born from delusions regarding the motives of these separatists are only likely to create more confusion. Both the North and South Block are making ill-advised moves which are not well calibrated or have not been very well thought through.
The last twenty, rather fifty years have proven beyond doubt that the separatists (a mere portion of Kashmiri Muslims), who are the backbone of Islamic terrorism in the Valley are out to wreck vengeance on the Indian State under abetment and dictation from Pakistan and its agencies. They have never reposed their faith in a peaceful and dignified resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio, which in itself is a creation of Pakistan’s forcible intervention. They have always scuttled sincere efforts made by the Govt. of India officially and track two moderators unofficially to restore peace in the Kashmir Valley and work for a durable settlement to help people from all three Divisions of the State (Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh). The Govt of India organized a Maha Panchayat (Grand Meeting) of all stake holders from the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) State and even that was sabotaged by the separatists whose involvement was sought. The separatists are a minority but in the absence of a clear communication strategy from the Government of India, they have been able to embarrass the State and the Central Governments with issues which are hardly real and relevant.
Given all this history, one simply fails to understand the haste with which the Prime Minister of India sent invitations to the various separatists for a dialogue without pre-conditions, ignoring other majority segments of the J&K state’s population. Even if it is assumed that America (claiming Pakistan to be an ally in the fight against terrorism) was applying covert pressure on India to negotiate with Pakistan and normalize borders with it so that Pakistani security forces could be withdrawn from some areas to be deployed against the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, it does not justify an immature approach on such a vital issue. A number of separatists seem to have accepted the invitation though the hard core elements still evade and avoid meeting on one or the other pretext. The so-called moderate segment of the Hurriyat seems to think that Pakistan, in the near and even the foreseeable future will not be able to pressure India to bend any more due to Pakistan’s own grave problems. In an American financed but half-hearted war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, it will not be easy for the Pakistani Army to come up clear victors in a time frame. This ongoing war could mean a reduction in logistical and financial support from Pakistan to the terrorists in Kashmir. However, even as these “moderate” separatists come to the discussion table, there will be no sincere effort by them to agree for peace and progress in the Valley because that is not their brief. Regarding the hard core fringe of the separatists, they continue to hallucinate that insurrection and violence can be incited in the Valley, with whatever level of logistical and moral support from Pakistan.
Pakistan itself is playing a double game .On the one hand it continues to maintain pressure on the Indian borders by pushing in more militants. On the other hand, at the international level, it pleads with its western friends that it is willing to resolve all issues including Kashmir with India through dialog. Pakistan is trying to resurrect General Mushraff’s four point resolution of the Kashmir issue, forgetting that Pakistani clout in Kashmir is diminishing by the day, proven by the successful conduct of several democratic elections during the last decade. India is taking a harder stand regarding Pakistan’s push of terrorists into India. The present position was correctly revealed in a recent statement of the Defense Minister of India that Pakistan has increased its pressure on Kashmir and its other borders with India in a desire to push more terrorists. He spoke so tough on the issue that it could be well assumed that India could and would thwart all such moves of the terrorists and even chase them in hot pursuit to their place of origin.
Post November 26, 2008 even as a favorable world public opinion in favor of India’s stand against terrorism inside its borders was created, the mandarins of both North and South Block at New Delhi have been confused by the meanderings of the politicians, who have other interests guiding them. Or are they themselves groping in the dark and unable to tender proper inputs and advice to the politicians to take decisions which are in the best public and national interest. Whatever maybe the cause, the immature moves that emanate create more problems than they solve and put the elected government of the State through the great stress of uncertainty, leading to inactivity. Such moves also fritter away the security advantages which have been consolidated by tireless efforts of our bold men in uniform. Moreover, it allows the local bureaucracy which is well known for its “virtues” to make a fast buck in an environment of uncertainty
If there is any need for talks, it should be with the majority cross-section of the people of the State who are honest and sincere for India and belong to all three regions. These people want to discuss employment, education, health-care, communications, trade and commerce, agriculture, horticulture and tourism. They have the burning problem of return and rehabilitation of half a million Kashmiri Bhattas to the valley. It would therefore be only rational for the Prime Minister to devote his time and the nation’s resources towards bringing favorable conclusions for the people of the state, which he is otherwise likely to squander on wasteful activities with the negative elements of the valley.
An open Panchayat with the people of the state, focusing on responsive and accountable governance in a democratic environment can be held, which will get active participation from all. Such a move will also strengthen the process of democratic participation and devolution of power to the people. We need not test the already tested to fail separatists with fresh parleys. On the other hand we should build bridges with all the other stake holders and dialogue with them with an open mind. Besides Sunni Muslims of the Valley, Kashmiri Bhattas, Shia Muslims, Sikhs, Pahadis, Dards and Bakarwals need to be associated in new discussions regarding the valley. From Ladakh, in addition to the Budhists, Shia Muslims also need to be involved. From Jammu, in addition to Hindu Dogras, Scheduled Castes, Sunni Muslims, Gojar and Bakarwals need to be incorporated in deliberations. Even 1947 Refugees from Pakistan need to be included as they have problems which have defied solution so far.
Our Prime Minister needs to understand that separatists alone can not hold the entire J&K State to ransom. The mainline political parties like National Conference, National Congress, BJP and Panthers Party which are working at the ground level to confront the separatists have a vital role to play in the development of the state. Maybe the PDP, which is the soft and pretty face of the separatists, can be co-opted if they seek to reform themselves.
New Delhi needs to get it now at least.
| *P.N.Ganjoo was born in a modest Kashmiri family about 7 decades ago, lost his father early and was raised by his honest, hardworking mother. With her efforts he received his education in Srinagar and went on to serve in various Government Departments before retiring as a senior grade KAS officer.
Presently he is working on his varied interests besides being a consulting Director of a software services company.
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Tikoo Sahib;living in a democratic civilized world,we can not become hostages to our jobs and prosperity due to the dread of rabid fundamantalists.The World has shrunk with intimate relationships.If we start thinking pliantly we shall be ruled by a mad fringe who believe in the cult of hate and voilence.We have to be in soliderity with sane elements for a peaceful composite world.
Added By pushkar ganjoo
Dear Mr.Ganjoo, Let me first correct you that separatists do not represent a small fraction of Kashmiri Muslims but a vast majority of people stand behind them with all support for the cause of separation from India. This was evident the day when 2 million Kashmiri came out with them in recent Eid Gah chalo march. Second its is because of Indian govts stubborn attitude that fails the dialogue. Stances like Integral part and talks under Indian constitution are the impediments created by India.
Added By Kashmiri Muslim
Well said but unfortunately our Prime Minister does not understand that separatists are holding the entire J&K State to ransom. Policy of appeasement at the cost of National integration is unfortunately the mantra of this government.
Added By Awtar Wali
I wish the government would understand that Indian-ness needs to be encouraged and separatism is to be challenged. Not the other way around.
Added By Shyam Bhat
Shree Ganju Sahib Every word of your is truth,The head is weary who wears the crown Dictorial decsions is not a big game its fall out can be disastarous-We have to sometimes think of 7.34Mil who are in Gulf.i am among them and it applies to me first.If we had courage -we should have fought it there and then -Instead of running away and allowing Government of India to keep a bone in our mouth so that we may not bark.My email is with the editor - Please be kind to discuss with me- .
Added By Suneel Tikoo
Few Q’s to KM above: ANY particular reason for being ashamed of telling name? DO these 2 million want a state carved out on the basis of religion? CAN any govt rep country “ever” talk outside constitution on which he was elected and to which swore allegiance. If u call that being stubborn, I have only sympathy with lack of common sense
Added By Ravinder Bhan