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Dialogue the only way but….

After ceasefire, government of India has announced its intention to hold dialogue with Pakistan and separatist leaders in Kashmir. It could be termed as the only positive thing happening on Kashmir front after four years of aggressive conduct by New Delhi. It is quite appreciable that Modi-led government has finally accepted the importance of talks. The hostile military attitude that has remained central to New Delhi’s Kashmir policy has only but added to the alienation among Kashmiri masses. That is evident from the people gathering at encounter sites and fighting battles with security forces with stones and bricks. That makes the dialogue all the more necessary. Syed Ali Geelani, the most ardent and influential voice in the separatist camp, too, has agreed that there was no alternative to talks for resolving issues. “We are not against the dialogue process, but we favour only meaningful and result-oriented negotiations. We have a clear agenda and our viewpoint is unambiguous … that the issue can be resolved through dialogue,” he said in a statement. Mirwaiz Ummar Farooq and Mohamad Yasin Malik, who are part of the joint resistance leadership (JRL) have already held talks with New Delhi during previous governments of Atal Biharai Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh. In recent months, Pakistan’s military and political leadership has, on more than one occasion, insisted on initiation of dialogue with India. That should give one a hope. But as the situation is unfolding little forward movement could be expected on this front. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has put a rider on talks with Pakistan that it could be possible only after Islamabad ‘stops terrorism”. “Talks and terror cannot go together” she said. Home Minister Rajnath Singh while making offer of talks with Kashmiri separatist leadership, said “Kashmiri hama hai aur Kashmiri hamare hien”. Though Pakistan is yet to respond to Indian offer of dialogue, home minister has pushed the separatist leadership in Kashmir to the wall by declaring the result of talks even before these were held. Separatist leaders are reported to be holding mutual consultations before making a joint response to the call. Syed Ali Geelani, the most ardent and effective voice in the separatist camp, has already conditioned his participation in talks with five points—release of all political prisoners, scrapping of black laws and New Delhi’s acceptance of Kashmir as a dispute, withdrawal of forces and punishment for those involved in killing and maiming civilians. Geelani however said that he would consult with other factions of separatist leadership before announcing his final response. There is strong feeling among the pro-dialogue camp of separatists that New Delhi lacked the will and sincerity in resolving the problems through dialogue. Given their past experience, they are of the opinion that government of India uses dialogue as a means to buy time. Sooner the situation returns to normal, the dialogue process collapses. Academically speaking dialogue is the most honourable and the only civilized way to resolve disputes. But a cursory look at New Delhi’s philosophy of dialogue would reveal that institution of dialogue in India is the most corrupt and discredited creation. India has never used dialogue as a means to resolve issues. It rather used it as a means to corrupt people, buy time and loyalties and make those who refuse to fall in line irrelevant. There must be no doubt in minds about New Delhi’s understanding of Kashmir issue. It does not see Kashmir beyond an administrative issue. It is a historical reality that India has never conceded Kashmir as an issue. It rather acknowledges—issues in Kashmir. But this mindset has worked neither in the past nor would it work in future. It is high time that New Delhi accepted its shortcomings in Kashmir and addressed the issue or issues with quite sincerity and strong will. Separatist in Kashmir too have to accept the subtleties involved in the issue and go for dialogue without subjecting it to conditions.