Ceasefire sans initiative
Centre must dispel the confusions, ambiguities and match its goodwill with sincere action
Three weeks after the announcement of Ramazan ceasefire, there are no signs of a meltdown. Grenade attacks, encounters, street protests and bloodshed continue to be the norm and that is the more likely outcome even if the ceasefire is extended beyond Eid unless rigid posturing is shunned. Cessation of hostilities is indeed the basic imperative for initiating a process of resolving Kashmir amicably through dialogue and negotiations. The ceasefire announcement, directionless as its remains, stands on a shaky ground due to absence of an initiative to begin a meaningful process. In an unchanged scenario, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s appeal to separatists to seize the opportunity of a dialogue offer from union home minister Rajnath Singh is a mocking negation of power equations and frilled with the absurdity of barking up the wrong tree.
Few days into the ceasefire, Rajnath Singh made an ambiguous yet significant offer of dialogue, for the first time resisting the temptation to wrap up the offer ‘within the framework of the constitution’ and also taking the extra mile to break the traditional contempt for separatists while making the offer. That, however, does not translate into specific invitation for talks. After initial hiccups in responding positively to this sign of visible but feeble rhetorical magnanimity, the separatists sought a clarity on the ambiguity of Singh’s offer and emphasized the need for beginning a two way process of dialogue with both Pakistan and Kashmiris. The words from both sides are a slight and welcome departure from the best but are nothing beyond histrionics unless matched with further action. The basic flaw in Mufti’s attempt to put the ball in the court of separatists is that it undermines the authority and power of the governments including her own. The separatists cannot be expected to be more in control of the situation than those exercising power through the administrative and military enterprises.
The vital point being missed is also the absence of an unambiguous initiative from the Centre, or even a response to the queries and doubts raised by the Hurriyat leaders. The multiple voices from New Delhi, all contradicting each other, after the ceasefire announcement further underlines the need to shift this onus of seizing the opportunity more towards the Centre, though the separatists cannot be fully absolved of their own responsibility in helping calm the tempers. The latter, however, is dependent on the ability of Centre to lend some clarity to its words and for the state government to execute that on ground.
The Centre will first have to put to rest the confusing signals emerging out of its goodwill gesture. The second is to recognize the extent of volatility of the situation that stems not only from anger but also a sentiment. A dialogue can indeed address these two attributes but the million dollar question is how to get this dialogue rolling. To add to the confusion, New Delhi’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma on Monday spoke about the need for preceding dialogue with calm, even as he admitted this was a case of chicken and egg. Such rhetorics only heighten the levels of scepticism in the Valley. The need is for solid action on the ground that can spell the sincerity of the Centre and that is the third imperative for initiating a dialogue.
Violence and ongoing cycle of bloodshed will neither die on its own, nor be eased out through military methods. There is need for creative and innovative thinking in getting the youth to repose faith from guns and stones to dialogue. The sincerity of all stake-holders is at test but the prime onus is on the Centre which needs to be guided not by flip-flops and histrionics but political will and sincerity. A note of caution at this juncture would be prudent. A failed and directionless initiative ultimately can be dangerously counter-productive, sealing all hopes of a peaceful resolution in the future, and will be far more detrimental to the health of Kashmir than no initiative at all. New Delhi needs to act with sincerity, vision, swiftness and prudence.
News Updated at : Wednesday, June 6, 2018