Time to give peace a chance in Kashmir (Part-III)
S. Narinder Singh
Political double speak has also worsened the Kashmir situation. Banking upon the support of separatists, PDP made significant inroads in politics in 2002 and Mufti Mohammed Sayeed became the Chief Minister despite his party having just 16 seats in the Assembly. It behaved like opposition rather than the junior partner to Congress in the agreed upon second spell of the Coalition Government and fall of Ghulam Nabi Azad government in 2008 is now a part of history.
Again Mufti Sayeed fought 2014 elections by toeing separatist friendly line and bashing BJP and got 28 seats. Due to political compulsion, PDP entered into political wedlock with arch rivals BJP which had emerged as most powerful party in the Jammu region. Mufti’s tilt towards those other side of the fence reflected when he expressed gratitude to separatists and terrorists for having facilitated smooth 2014 elections. Now there has been change in the PDP policy as the new Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been blaming Pakistan for Kashmir unrest. Mufti Sayeed never gave the statements which Mehbooba Mufti is currently issuing.
Even Omar Abdullah, grandson of Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah who spent 22 years of prime life in jails, could not fulfill the aspirations of the people during his tenure as Chief Minister between 2008 and 2014. However, his charismatic father Dr Farooq Abdullah had and continues to have a support base among the people of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Lack of performance led National Conference to political debacle in 2014 elections, both Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly. Even charismatic Dr Farooq also lost his Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.
The wavering policies of the so-called mainstream parties have brought Kashmir to current passé. Such is the credibility deficit of mainstream parties that none of them is able to douse the current Kashmir fire. PDP is confused and virtually frustrated over the sequence of events. BJP lawmakers and ministers have confined themselves to inaugurations and launching of second-grade petty projects. None of the coalition partners has been able to reach out suffering people in Kashmir. But for one visit of the Chief Minister, no political leader of any consequence stood by the side of common masses during the testing time. Politics ruled roost during the ongoing turbulence. Omar Abdullah refused to participate in the all party meet convened by the Chief Minister.
Despite their own flip flops, the entire mainstream in Kashmir stands for dialogue with Pakistan, knowing well how the rogue neighbour has back stabbed, be it Kargil or ceasefire violations on LoC or International Border. Islamabad never responded to hand of friendship offered by New Delhi. Therefore, peace with Pakistan seems a remote possibility, as that country is openly supporting terror by describing Burhan Wani as a martyr and Kashmir’s freedom fighter. This is open challenge to India and direct interference in its internal affairs. Therefore, for the time being, India and the so-called Kashmiri mainstream leaders should forget about bonhomie with Pakistan as of now, though dialogue alone is a way forward to sorting out problems; be it Islamabad or separatists in Kashmir.
The current unrest in Kashmir is grim reminder of the failure of successive governments at the Centre and in the State. To tackle the situation in the right earnest is call of the time. The dismissal of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah in 1953 and sacking of subsequent Chief Ministers at the whims and fantasies of the rulers that be in Delhi besides erosion of J and K special status, alleged rigged elections, corruption and governance deficit are the real cause of the turmoil which is leading towards alienation of people from the mainstream.
Keeping in view the current turmoil in the Valley, which has spread its tentacles in parts of Jammu also, the Centre and the State Government must concentrate on bringing peace in Kashmir. When situation becomes normal, a process should be set in motion to address the problems without compromising India’s security interests and sovereignty of the nation. It is for the members of civil societies and other non political organisations from Kashmir too to lend helping hand in ending the current spate of violence, lest blood bath will have no end, which is not in the interest of the nation as also for the peace loving people in Kashmir. As part of India, it is incumbent upon the national leadership to assuage aspirations of all segments of the society, especially the angry youth. Protests, violence or gun is no solution to problems. Dialogue alone can steer the Valley from prevailing morass. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also hinted towards this in immense measure by saying Kashmir problems will be dealt in the spirit of Kashmiriyat, Insaanyat and Jamhooriat.
(The writer is a former Director,
Information J&K Government)