Resuming dialogue process Fresh initiative needed to break the logjam

WITH the situation in the troubled Valley worsening with every
passing day what is adding to the people’s alienation and
sense of desperation is New Delhi’s failure to open fresh
credible channels for breaking the logjam and carry forward the
peace process to its logical end. Keeping the problem under the carpet
with the hope that the issue can be resolved automatically with
the passing of time has indeed ominous consequences. The present
lull due to harsh winter, which has only added to the people’s woes
and betrayed the present ruling establishment’s incompetence to
tide over the crisis and its lack for concern for the plight of the people,
should not be mistaken as the people’s endorsement of the policy
of status-quo and inaction.

The resumption of the composite dialogue
between the governments of India and Pakistan had again
generated hope among the alienated people of Kashmir that the
present uncertainty will come to an end and a just and democratic
solution of the vexed problem will be found by taking their representatives
on board. That unfortunately has not happened. Not only
there has been little movement on the Kashmir-related bilateral dialogue
between India and Pakistan but worse the broken threads in
regard to the dialogue with the alienated sections of the people have
not yet been picked up. Even the necessary confidence building
measures for creating a conducive climate for resuming dialogue for
a peaceful and negotiated Kashmir solution have not been taken.
Some of these measures include the end to grave human rights
abuses in the State, revocation of draconian laws, gradual withdrawal
of troops from the civilian areas and vacation of the civilian space,
unrestricted and hassle-free travel across the Line of Control, opening
of communication channels, enhancement of trade relations and
facilitation of people-to-people contacts, demilitarization of both
sides of the troubled state, an immediate withdrawal of forces from
Siachen declaring this area as peace park and removing all curbs,
placed by the central and state governments on the media in the
State.

Regrettably, while the India-Pakistan dialogue process is moving
at snail’s pace with nothing substantive achievements gained so far,
New Delhi’s failure even to reach the alienated sections of the people
and the leaders involved in the struggle so far is even more pronounced.
Some of the efforts made in the recent past have only
proved counter-productive. Instead of creating a sense of hope
among the people for a settlement taking into account their political
aspirations this non-serious approach has only fostered a sense of
cynicism with its dangerous fallout. The round table conferences
called by the Prime Minister have only strengthened the walls of mistrust
weakening those who favoured a peaceful and negotiated solution
of the problem. The reports submitted by various working
groups on governance, human rights, confidence building and economic
matters, submitted by the concerned working groups are eating
dust in the cupboards of the state and central governments.

Even the Sagheer panel report dealing with the Centre-state relations,
which is not only vague but also fails to address the real problem,
is still being examined by the state’s cabinet sub-committee
with the coalition partners pulling in different directions. The subcommittee
has now been given another extension till March 31 next.

The report of the three member team of interlocutors appointed last
year too has been kept in the cold storage, Though submitted to the
Union Home Minister on October 12 by the panel has not even been
made public so far though its leaked out version the report shows
that the panel has not even considered the basic issue and has
more or less favoured a status-quo while adding to further confusion
and bickerings by making some absurd recommendations.

According to Dilip Padgaonkar, who headed the interlocutors team,
the Union Home Minister will make the report public only in April.
This shows the lack of seriousness on the part of the powers that be
in New Delhi even in dealing with the problem. The present logjam
on this issue can contribute only to further mistrust and the alienation
of the people. It needs to be broken with New Delhi taking fresh
initiative in opening channels of dialogue with the separatists in
Kashmir while accelerating the pace of India-Pakistan composite
dialogue along with the necessary confidence building measures.