Central government’s non-political interlocutors have lately been giving the impression as if they had succeeded in discovering the key to get the 64-year old Kashmir problem out of India’s way. The over-confidence with which they sum up their invisible achievements and project its imaginary dividends betrays serious lack of understanding and appreciation of what the problem was really about. That is why, unlike their political predecessors, this particular group refuses to acknowledge several critical deficiencies in its assessment as well as in its style of working. Going by their latest assertion, the interlocutors do not feel handicapped by the absence of input from the acknowledged separatist groups and leaders in Kashmir. They are almost ready with their blue print for ‘changing the status quo’, whatever that vague expression might mean. The biggest discovery they claim to have made is that ‘people in the state desire change of status quo’. Its natural inference is that this fact had not been brought out in sufficient measure by what all had been happening over the past six decades, including two phases of mass upheaval in 2008 and 2010. If there was any clear cut message behind these happenings it was nothing else but that there is total dissatisfaction about status quo in Kashmir. Misalignment of the interlocutors does not end there.
They have come up with an updated list of ‘stake holders’ in this matter, by adding ‘security forces’. Indeed, it is for the first time that anyone at all from the government side or from the opposition in the country has listed security forces among stake holders in the Kashmir dispute. Instead of realising the folly the interlocutors went on to justify the unjustifiable. Their cock-eyed interpretation means that when people of India through their validly constituted government are already recognised among the principal stake holders along with others it excludes the security forces of this country. Interlocutors must clarify the ambiguity created by them. Are the security forces of India outside the ambit and scope of ‘India’ as a universally recognised stake holder in the dispute? Acceptance of the illogical interpretation would mean that in future India would also have to recognise and deal distinctly with the security forces of Pakistan while doing business with the recognised government of that country. This interpretation is fraught with more serious implications than the interlocutors seem to have grasped. In which other part of India are the security forces identified as a separate entity in dealing with issues and problems related to security? Not even in the North-East which touches China, Burma and Bangladesh. By raising this new controversy along with writing off the significance of input from one of the major stake holders (separatists) the interlocutors seem to have written the epitaph of their likely recommended solution.
Till now all that the interlocutors have been able to achieve is to manage limited interaction with mainstream segments whose views and stated positions are too well known to need any further research. If it is on the basis of such a lopsided engagement, laced with input from the ‘security forces’, which the interlocutors intend to recommend change in the status quo’ it can safely be predicted that their labour would end up as a wasted effort. History is so full of similar misadventures that it would not make much difference.