To­wards an in­clu­sive Kash­mir di­a­logue

Di­nesh­war Sharma, Cen­tre’s new spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Kash­mir is­sues, brings to the ta­ble much-needed prag­ma­tism

The Hindu Business Line - - THINK - D SUBA CHAN­DRAN

So, it is now the turn of Di­nesh­war Sharma to find out what is In­dia’s prob­lem in J&K. As if the state and so­ci­ety in In­dia are not aware of the prob­lem, and what the var­i­ous sec­tions of J&K de­mand vis-àvis New Delhi. (For starters, Sharma is the Cen­tre’s spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for hold­ing di­a­logue with all stake­hold­ers in J&K.) De­spite the cyn­i­cism, based more on the frus­tra­tions of New Delhi be­ing in­con­sis­tent and not do­ing more, this new ini­tia­tive should be whole­heart­edly wel­come.

What should the agenda be? And what should this ini­tia­tive avoid? And how best the var­i­ous sec­tions in J&K could sup­port this new ini­tia­tive to suc­ceed?

Ac­cord­ing to the for­mal state­ment, Sharma has been ap­pointed “as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the gov­ern­ment of In­dia to ini­ti­ate and carry for­ward a di­a­logue with elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions and con­cerned in­di­vid­u­als in the state of Jammu and Kash­mir.” This is a broad man­date and should be wel­come. Let the state and so­ci­ety start from here.

Look beyond fail­ures

Let us not waste our pre­cious time in find­ing fault with the gov­ern­ment choos­ing a bu­reau­crat, es­pe­cially from the In­tel­li­gence Bureau, and not opt­ing for a sea­soned politi­cian. Those who crit­i­cise the role of the IB in Kash­mir, and see it as a prob­lem do have a point. In this con­text, per­haps, the choice of Sharma is an op­por­tu­nity. As a for­mer IB man, he would know where ex­actly the prob­lems lie — from both sides.

Since he has been deal­ing with the is­sues, Sharma could cut the rhetoric on both sides and get to the chase in earnest. In J&K, any di­a­logue will have to face a huge rhetoric from both sides, start­ing from 1947 or even be­fore it. This would tire the process and ex­haust the peo­ple in­volved; since he has al­ready faced it, per­haps, Sharma would be a bet­ter per­son to start the process afresh, look at the present and move ahead.

On the con­trary, there have been ini­tia­tives led by po­lit­i­cal and so­ci­etal lead­ers. Dur­ing Manomo­han Singh’s pe­riod, the J&K Round Ta­bles were led by so­cial and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, and so were the sub­se­quent in­ter­locu­tors. Let us look beyond the de­bate — on who should be the right per­son to lead the di­a­logue. Let us start with what we have.

Let us also not waste our time in go­ing back into his­tory. The cyn­ics would point out the mul­ti­ple ini­tia­tives dur­ing the re­cent decades, and their out­comes. True, there have been mul­ti­ple ini­tia­tives in the re­cent years and they may have not pro­duced the de­sired re­sults.

A sec­tion has al­ready cre­ated a chrono­log­i­cal list of ear­lier ini­tia­tives, but con­cluded that all the re­ports are gath­er­ing dust in New Delhi. Are they?

Or, did each of th­ese ear­lier ini­tia­tives bring both sides a step closer in un­der­stand­ing what is ac­cept­able and un­ac­cept­able to the other side? This new process don’t have rein­vent the Kash­mir wheel; Sharma could start where the ear­lier in­ter­locu­tors ended, and take the process for­ward with con­tem­po­rary de­vel­op­ments.

Move ahead

The is­sue is not with the in­ter­locu­tors, but in New Delhi. The new rep­re­sen­ta­tive should know it bet­ter; per­haps, he was a part of it. The so­lu­tion lies in New Delhi walk­ing the last mile, and our lead­ers hav­ing the courage to see through it. Will Modi walk the last mile in J&K?

Sharma as “a rep­re­sen­ta­tive” is a new strat­egy for New Delhi. Let the PMO and the Home Min­istry be clear in terms of what it wants to achieve with the strat­egy. Whether the strat­egy achieves the ob­jec­tives are not, there should be His IB back­ground can help Sharma (R) bet­ter deal with J&K is­sues

a clear Endgame. Do we have a clear endgame in J&K? Is there a na­tional de­bate, if not a con­sen­sus on J&K, out­side the rhetoric? Per­haps, New Delhi has to take a con­scious step in hav­ing a par­al­lel di­a­logue within and out­side the Par­lia­ment on In­dia’s J&K ap­proach.

Let there be no links be­tween the na­tional endgame in J&K and that of the BJP. The for­mer should take prece­dence over the lat­ter. While it is con­ceiv­able that both co­in­cide, in prac­tice so far, both seem to col­lide with each other. As a po­lit­i­cal party, the BJP has every right to achieve its own Endgame within J&K.

But as a coun­try, let New Delhi not al­low the party agenda to un­der­mine the na­tional agenda. Not only in J&K, one could see a sim­i­lar stand by the BJP in other parts of the coun­try; for ex­am­ple, in Tamil Nadu, the lo­cal BJP cadre seems to be suc­ceed­ing in what the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments have suc­cess­fully ad­dressed — pro­vok­ing re­gional sen­ti­ments against New Delhi. Let us keep the na­tion ahead of the party.

Let the Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive be not wor­ried about who is un­will­ing to talk. But let him not take a de­ci­sion, on whom he

would not talk to. He should speak to ev­ery­one in the Val­ley, ir­re­spec­tive of their po­lit­i­cal con­vic­tion. As a vet­eran in J&K af­fairs, Sharma would know more about the ac­tors and their con­tem­po­rary strengths.

He would also know about the new move­ment, led by the youths. Let them be the pri­mary fo­cus of his di­a­logue. And let this in­ter­ac­tion with the youths not be con­de­scend­ing. They are the voices and the fu­ture of J&K; it is im­per­a­tive and in In­dia’s in­ter­ests. Cer­tainly, talk­ing to them is not a favour.

If the Hur­riyat has an ex­alted no­tion about its own stand­ing within the Val­ley and is un­will­ing to take part, so be it. Let Di­nesh­war Sharma talk to every sec­tion, who­ever is will­ing to en­gage us.

Keep it open

Let the di­a­logue be in­clu­sive — of the re­gions as well. Let the fo­cus be not only on Kash­mir val­ley. Though a sec­tion in Val­ley would want the di­a­logue be only with Kash­mir, the is­sue is not that easy equa­tion. Both Jammu and Ladakh have long viewed New Delhi as lis­ten­ing only to Sri­na­gar and, in the process, got alien­ated from the Val­ley.

To­day, sub­stan­tial part of the prob­lem within Val­ley stems from its dis­con­nect with other two re­gions within J&K. This can be ad­dressed only by talk­ing to all three re­gions and even beyond; there are sub-re­gions even within th­ese three re­gions to­day, with their own po­lit­i­cal out­look.

Let the di­a­logue also be in­clu­sive in terms of new is­sues. There are new threats rang­ing from rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, ISIS, re­newed push from Pak­istan, etc. Let the Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, while lis­ten­ing to dif­fer­ent voices also ask how they see those emerg­ing threats and their im­pli­ca­tions, es­pe­cially on the next gen­er­a­tion.

Fi­nally, let this ini­tia­tive keep away from the tested for­mula of “sit tight and do noth­ing” (with the ear­lier pro­cesses), and “tir­ing the Kash­miris out through di­a­logue”. Such pro­cesses have only back­fired. Hav­ing de­cided to en­gage the peo­ple of J&K in a di­a­logue, New Delhi should take this process to its log­i­cal end. Let this process walk the last mile and not as a re­port.

The writer is a pro­fes­sor and dean of Con­flict and Se­cu­rity Stud­ies at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Stud­ies (Ban­ga­lore

A spe­cial mis­sion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.