All talk, no play Unique leaders, unique rhetoric

 Our leaders in Kashmir have  a unique quality. They read too much into the small things that happen around them or even in the distant  places.  Their eyes  are glued to the TV screens  to watch and hear what happens in Egypt, and the rest of the world. They would come out  with their reaction, suiting them and their constituencies, be  they separatists, mainstream or semi-mainstream party leaders. They get particularly  enthused when some sort of table is set up for talks between India and Pakistan, even if it happens at the level, where no decisions can be taken. Honestly, the secretary level talks could not have delivered something big, but there was a race  among the leaders to give a hype to it  and then  relate everything to Kashmir. There are two sides to it; one, that Kashmir leaders are  well informed  and they know that what consequences would follow. Secondly, the  leaders give such a hype that when nothing concrete emerges, they  go into  silent mode. The recent example is that of the Home Secretary level talks between Indian and Pakistan Home secretaries in Islamabad which  went on for two days- May 23-24. 

If the reports emanating  from  Islamabad  are any indication, the talks centered around terrorism. India was insistent that  Pakistan must  accept its blame for staging the terror attack  in Mumbai of November, 2008, now known through its  code of 26/11 in the line of  9/11 of the United States of America. There absolutely  is no doubt that 26/11 has done more damage to the India-Pakistan dialogue process than the  three wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971 and mini war of Kargil in 1999. The scars of the war are there, but  the terror attack on Mumbai has  acquired bigger dimensions than even the December 13, 2001  attack on the Indian Parliament. When India talks of 26/11, it  doesn’t mean only one terror attack. It means that the attack  happened in Mumbai, financial capital of the country, which, if described more in Orwellian terms  is  `more equal than others’. The attack left 166 people dead. Some  of them died at a place of worship, railway station and  hotels  and  restaurants. The live coverage of the attack  by overenthusiastic   TV channel reporters who  found some kind of a pleasure in  showing every bit of the  action and  revealing the strategic course of the  teams of security forces  trying to pin down the attackers, also imprinted on the minds of the viewers that  26/11  was  the defining moment of  terrorism in the country and  there should be no  concessions on that. This point was understood  for a while by the national leadership. However, it goes to the credit of Kashmiri leaders that  they exhorted both India and Pakistan not to stall the dialogue process, which was so painstakingly  resumed by  the Atal Bihari Vajpayee  Government. Vajpayee, incidentally, made the appeal at a public rally in Srinagar on 18th  of April, 2003, then ceasefire followed and  then came Islamabad declaration in January 2004.

Now at the conclusion of Home Secretary level talks, Pakistan has reiterated the same old  phrase that it would not allow terrorism to be exported  from its soil. On the other hand, it has submitted, what it calls, the evidence of the Indian involvement  in Balochistan. Pakistan home Secretary has given some information and the Indian Home secretary, according to Pakistani media, promised a necessary look  into the charge. Whether it is Balochistan or Bombay  ( Mumbai’s old name),  that has held back any movement forward on Kashmir.  There is a lot of rhetoric that comes from Pakistan about Kashmir  and there is reiteration  of diplomatic, political and  moral support.

This is something, which has  more meanings than the simple meanings what one gets while looking into the dictionary. India  knows it well, Pakistan knows it better that how this  kind of support has brought a level of uncertainty in the whole region  of South Asia.  The  fact that needs to be stressed is that when Kashmiri leaders  give a hype and raise the level of expectations of the commoners and ultimately when  progress is not made  even one  tenth of that, disappointment breeds frustration. That is unfair, the leaders must  say only that much to keep the expectations  within limits.