The missing road on Kashmir

The 2G spectrum is in news. Kashmir is  out of it . This is a typical attitude of Indian politicians and media  when things are relatively quiet in the Valley.  They get occupied with the  situations only when there are situations , after the controversy dies down, everything is forgotten about it.  The winter lull  is being mistaken as a permanent peace  in Kashmir . And, if the past history  offers any indication, the fact is that this is a lull before storm.

Kashmiri separatists , in many ways, are  lying low.. There are reasons for them to do so: they have created a situation for themselves where they are unable to carry masses along with them  in their agitational politics . They dependent too much on the anger of the people , little realizing that a particular emotion has a particular life span.  At a time when they had  opportunities opening for them to come out with a  visionary programme, they chose to ride on the crest of public anger .

In a way , the attitude of the  Central government and the separatists is  same:  buy time for themselves . The vision is blocked by the myopic thinking confined by time and   space. There was  opportunity for  both the sides to  work out something for the suffering masses of Kashmir . Neither side did anything.

When Cabinet Committee on Security, Congress Core Group meetings were being called and all party delegations were being planned and sent to the Valley , it appeared as Delhi, for a change , was displaying some seriousness  in addressing the Kashmir issue. There were talk shows,  think tanks were spending their time and energy and, of course, money , in suggesting  the way out .

Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Home Affairs were  busy in working out details of an all- elusive solution . Each word and action emanating from  here was being interpreted in several ways. There was an Indian perspective, Pakistani angle and also the international  dimension . First , it was given out that Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Pakistani capital Islamabad was the deadline, then it was extended to the visit of the US President Barack Obama . Something was in offing. That something, first appeared on the radar  in the form of eight points ,  and as a sequel to that  appointment of three interlocutors  on Kashmir . Thereafter, there were certain expressions, some palatable , other not so palatable , which dominated the course of the debate.

Separatists, on the other hand,  were focusing on their five-point and four-point formulas . They were trying to deliver a message to everyone , rather anyone who cared to listen that this is how they would like the Kashmir solution to be worked out . .  What was lacking was that there was not a single proposal on which all the separatists could agree on forward it as one of their own.

Then the debate shifted on whether the  United National Security Council had Kashmir on its list of “ unresolved disputes” or not. The United Nations  offered some clarifications and  the whole thing was  lost in a  muddle of war of words . But, where  did all this leave Kashmir and its people. An honest answer is : nowhere.

Why ?  The simple reason is that the  concerned parties  invent conditions  and positions that  tend to derail the possibility of solutions than  finding one .  The biggest onus lies on the parties and groups in Jammu and Kashmir . The groups in the state, as one gets the sense sitting here, want  India, Pakistan to discuss Kashmir issue. They also want the international powers to intervene, mediate  or facilitate the dialogue process  to achieve a solution. There was a huge  sense of celebration when President Obama  told a joint press conference here  on November 8 : “With respect to Kashmir, obviously this is a longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan…….the  United States cannot impose a solution to these problems, but I’ve indicated to Prime Minister Singh that we are happy to play any role that the parties think is appropriate in reducing these tensions.

“As the Kashmiri separatists were trying to interpret Obama’s words “ we are happy to play any role” ,  the Indian media was going gaga over  the phrase : “ the United States cannot impose a solution.”

But  after the visit , the  matters have come back to square one. Kashmir, at the moment, is a  chapter that has been lost in the pile of 2G scam, land  scam in Maharashtra and Karnataka  and  no one seems to be talking about with same urgency  as was the case two months ago. It has been  reduced to margins at the moment. Pakistan is struggling to fight the aftermath of flashfloods. Indian political leadership is busy  in settling scores on the corruption issues , and Kashmiri separatists  are  seeking ways to stay relevant. But where is the relevance  of the issue and possible solutions.  The answer is nowhere.