‘Unity and affection were the pivotal words during my interaction with other political parties on the Kashmir issue. Those who are inciting the Kahsmiri youth for indulging in violent clashes and stone pelting will have to answer someday and those who have died in the ongoing phase of unrest in Kashmir are Indians’ – prime minister Narendra Modi said on August 28, making his changed stand on Jammu & Kashmir loud and clear – once again. He was addressing the nation through his monthly radio broadcast ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
It was continuing his efforts to initiate a dialogue process to find a solution to the Kashmir problem that will be acceptable to the stakeholders who see a point here. Before this, even in the meeting with the united front of the Jammu & Kashmir opposition parties on August 22, he had said that development alone was not the solution and dialogue was a must.
To extend Modi’s initiative, home minister Rajnath Singh held meetings with some eminent Indians before his visit to Kashmir earlier this week to prepare the groundwork for the peace initiative. During his two-day stay there he met with all the stakeholders involved and even indicated that he was ready to meet the separatists (which the separatists refused). An all party delegation is slated to visit the Valley soon.
But Kashmir unrest is not a problem that alone the central government can resolve. The elected state government, being the representative of the state’s people, is the primary interface here through which the central government can push any initiative further and therefore both the governments need to act in unison.
Something that is not happening.
India has accused Pakistan of fomenting the Kashmir unrest but J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti is still appealing to Pakistan to help in resolving the Kashmir imbroglio if the country is really concerned with Kashmiris’ plight. Now even a child can understand the Pakistani plot here. The whole Kashmir problem is Pakistan created. While Mehbooba is still trying to court Pakistan, the Narendra Modi government has made it very clear that it will not talk to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Instead, Pakistan should rein in the anti-India elements on its soil and should stop anti-India propaganda.
These paradoxical approaches to the Kashmir problem have always been obstacles to find any solution. It has been consistently seen that the state governments of J&K and the state politicians have been advocating to make Pakistan a party in the Kashmir peace process because it appeases a section voters there, voters who form the core of mobs in case whenever there is a situation of unrest whereas the Indian stand from Delhi has been unambiguous putting it firmly that the whole J&K is India’s integral part and if there is any problem, it is India’s internal matter and will be resolved accordingly. Though Kashmir has been the main issue between India and Pakistan and the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has been treating the J&K separatists like some VVIPs, it should be seen as the part of democratic processes only that define India’s founding principles. The Kashmir rant in India-Pakistan bilateral ties has always had a Pakistani imprint.
Now that the Indian government has firmly said that no talks with Pakistan would be held on the Kashmir issue, the state government, too, should try to find a way out within this framework only. Pakistan understands that it cannot take Kashmir from India – either in a war or by promoting proxy wars. But it needs Kashmir to divert attention from its domestic problems as well as to nurture anti-India sentiments that give legitimacy to the political roles its military establishment plays.
The country, in fact, is feeling desperate after Narendra Modi’s open dare that India would now raise human rights and atrocity issues in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Baluchistan on international platforms, something that is getting good traction among the Baluch activists spread across the world.
Sending its parliamentarians to different countries to highlight the Kashmir issue, getting an anti-India statement issued from the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), giving active patronage to terrorists wanted in India to spew venom against India and mentoring and tutoring the J&K separatists – these steps indicate how insecure Pakistan is feeling now – so much so that Kashmir has started dictating its foreign policy just not with India but across the world.
The J&K politicians and the state government should see through it. That is a must for any peace process initiated by the centre to bear fruit. Dialogue is the only way forward but both the state government and the central government should understand that they should not send conflicting signals as it would be like playing in the hands of anti-India elements and the J&K separatists who keep on inciting the Valley protests.
The J&K politicians who take part in India’s electoral politics must sing the Indian tune and not the Pakistan’s national anthem.
Why it is that some J&K politicians find India an easy target to blame while their silence on Pakistan is deafening?
Why it is that they never talk of PoK atrocities and problems?
If Pakistan is out of the ambit of the talks, both the governments should speak the same. The government of India had given the separatists a chance when Rajnath Singh had invited them but the separatists who now openly endorse Pakistan, how can they be expected to be part of something constructive?
Meanwhile, Kashmir continues to burn.
August 27 marked the 50 days of violence in the Valley that began after Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burwan Wani was killed in a police encounter. The death toll in the Valley so far stands around 70 which include mainly the young protesters. The ongoing unrest has left thousands injured and many have become crippled. Both the dead, as well as the injured, include security personnel as well. Educational institutions and businesses remain closed. Trade and industry bodies peg the loss at Rs. 6000 crore. But the actual loss will be manifold as the tourism industry, the mainstay of J&K economy, which had started witnessing some activity, is gone again and the simmering tension says it will be some years of consistent healing before it can see some positive signs.