You Need Skilled Negotiators

You Need Skilled Negotiators
….. and then only could better results be expected
Someone tried to prod me on the Facebook. He wanted to extract a comment from me on the statement made by a leader at a Srinagar seminar about the assassination of two top very popular and courageous leaders of the State.  I have not only had lot of respect, admiration for the slain leaders but also personal one to one close brotherly relations with both.  On many  occasions more particularly during the inscrutable political situations in the state my heart bleeds for the departed leaders. But, a watcher from distance like me was not the right person to supplement or contradict the remarks of a leader who was in the thick of things when these assassinations took place.

I could make out the ‘faceless’ person prodding me on this social networking   was a proxy. Smacking an agent provocateur, he provocatively also wanted me to comment on the observations made by yet another ‘central-stage’ leader of our state on the role of intellectuals in the situation as has been obtaining in the State.   He referred to the waspish remarks that the leader had made about ‘intellectuals’ and intelligentsia with a malicious design.

 I strongly believe that every leader tall or dwarf has a right to opine, so do I believe in writers, columnists, analysts, scribes and journalists having a right to write with freedom. But, I equally recognize the fact sitting on fence, me or people in my tribe have no right to dwarf or undermine the contributions of any of the top, middle or lower wrung leaders and activists but at the same time I also believe that people in the fraternity in large interest of society need not and should not mortgage their right to analyze the moves and decisions of political parties to the whims and fancies of political leaders.  


The state during past twenty two years has thrown up multitudes of leaders and political activists. Majority of them have made immense sacrifices for their political beliefs and ideologies. Some had been incarcerated for years even decade and more. I don’t grouse bitterness in these leaders or activists; they were brought up in a different culture than the one that in broader term could be political. Majority of the new crop of leaders has suffered immensely but did not have the opportunity of undergoing political training under the tutelage of political ideologues as some earlier generations.

I am reminded of the transitional phase of our political movement in late thirties when the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference suffered a vertical division.  Jawaharlal, who for very valid reasons I consider as founder of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference asked a whole crop of socialist thinkers to provide a political content to the movement of the National Conference and organize training camps for the leadership of this organization. I have earlier also written how a whole crop of the National Conference leadership attended political training camps under B.P.L. Bedi and other socialists  ideologues in Lahore. I have equally written how Quaid-e-Azam deputed Muslim League ideologues like Nasari Kayani to Kashmir for educating the Muslim Conference rank and file on the emerging political scenario in the sub-continent. In the post 1947 scenario in the state other than politico-religious organizations, I have not seen any of the political organizations in the state including the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front organizing any political training camps for its leaders and workers.

The question then remains. Have ‘intellectuals’, intelligentsia and writers been shying away from the performing the   role the situation in the state has been demanding from them. I am not here to enter into polemics as to who could be called an intellectuals and if we have intellectuals in our society.  Noam Chomsky long before in 1967 has written a seventeen thousand word article on ‘the responsibility of intellectual or Edward Said has equally written a forty page long article on the "The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals”.  There are scores of other scholars who have written on the subject. In its humble way the Greater Kashmir in 2008 organized a very valuable seminar on the Role of Intelligentsia in Contemporary Situation and where participants talked about all definitions of an intellectual, writer and debated on Edward Said’s idea of “writer-intellectual or Gramscian concepts of intellectual. Here I am not going to enter into an academic debate, “whether a non-political intellectual or writer is a notion that has much content to it” or “People still   need to look at the writer-intellectual as someone who ought to be listened to as a guide to the confusing present, and also as a leader of a faction, tendency or group vying for more power and influence”. I am not equally going to enter into a debate ‘If an intellectual should be neither driven by passion for office    nor by the ambition to get the ear of someone in power.’ Or if ‘profit and celebrity are powerful stimulants’ for an intellectual.

I will endeavor to look at the whole debate that has been going on for about a week in our newspapers not through the prism of academicians but as a student of contemporary political history of Jammu and Kashmir. True, there have been political movements in the world that have been led by what I would like to call as ‘Intellectual-leaders’ like Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru but there have equally been successful  political struggles in the world that have been led by soldiers like Ahmed Ben Bella.   But, it would be wrong to assume that with no ‘Intellectual-leader’ around the problem of political uncertainty in our case cannot be settled without the involvement of intellectuals and writers.

I do agree that the ‘writer-intellectual’ has a role to tell the story, ‘speaking truth to power being a witness to persecution and suffering, supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority.” It would be wrong to look for a whole hog role for writers and intellectuals in the resolution of problem of Jammu and Kashmir.

Seen in right historical perspective the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is not an ideological war that needs intellectual grist but it is dispute whose contours are very well defined. History is not subservient to caprices, whims and fancies of countries or leaders nor can it be blotted out through arrogance of authority and power. The stated position of both India and Pakistan is that the future of Jammu and Kashmir is in dispute and so is the stated position of the comity of nations. Despite India and Pakistan talking of resolving the dispute through bilateral dialogue the issue continues to be on the agenda the United Nations Security Council…the presence of UN Military Observers group testifies it. And it is equally a fact during past forty years no special session of the UN has been held for implementing its own resolution for resolving the dispute as happened from the birth of dispute up to 1971, instead this body has also been impressing upon India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute.

It also cannot be denied that the Kashmir leadership despite lot of rhetoric about the UN resolution has no faith in their implementation. In the post 1971-scenario it first manifested its disbelief in the implementation of these resolutions when APHC in its constitution talked about ‘negotiated settlement of the dispute’.   The statements made by chairmen of two factions of the Hurriyat Conference on   62nd anniversary of UN resolution on Kashmir spoke loudly of their disbelief in implementation of UN resolutions. 

 In this scenario it seems that Kashmir leadership is only looking for negotiations for ending political uncertainty in the state. It is equally a matter of fact that New Delhi has been talking of holding negotiations with Kashmir leaders and so has been Islamabad. But what has been clouding these gestures and coming in the way of holding negotiations is not the methodology, whether it is on track one or track two;  bilateral or tri-lateral, direct, indirect or through proximity talks  but a well defined  and transparent agenda.

India and Pakistan during past sixty years at the back of people of the state have been holding negotiations and many a time arrived at near solution. History is replete with instances that many time geo-strategic concerns of other nations have come in the way of the resolution. To quote Frank Morass after 1961 war the two countries had virtually agreed to joint control of the state but the United States had asked ‘Valley to go Pakistan, India should be guaranteed a corridor through valley to enable supply to Ladakh….a frontier area directly under threat to China (Witness to an Era page 218). . This situation after opening of Manali road has changed.

Looking at the whole gamut of emerging scenario about Kashmir problem I believe that only only an intellectual input  is needed but there is need for evolving team of skilled negotiators.