Whenever we see incidents of irrational behavior, there is an urge to find out the incentive or motivation behind it.
One wonders whether it is the sheer irony of fate or the deliberate efforts of mischief-makers – in Kashmir or in New Delhi – that whenever there is a slight indication of any positive developments vis-à-vis the resolution of the Kashmir issue, something goes terribly wrong shattering the bubble of hopes and expectations. Like most other occasions in the history of the “talks” efforts, this time too the process has been apparently nipped right in the bud even before taking off, let alone being taken to a “logical conclusion”.
The first setback to the “dialogue” process – whether quiet or obvious, bilateral or multilateral, conditional or unconditional – came from within the household of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in the form of objection by its own members –“moderates” as well as the “hardliners”. Whether the opposition was justified or not is a moot question given the fact that the factions of the APHC have so far failed in presenting with a unified agenda or in enticing/convincing circles outside of their respective ambits. On the contrary, the conglomerate has engaged itself in playing an endless series of blame-games. Here, a special role is being played by Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani whose belligerent attitude has encouraged a continuing spree of anti-social acts. A poorly-conceived rhetoric on his part (which one can only think of as a “broken record” for it simply repeats itself over and over again) is that “India should first accept Kashmir as a dispute and then offer any talks”. After all why would India offer “talks” if it did not, overtly or covertly, accept Kashmir as a dispute? This is a simple analogy which should be comprehensible even to a nincompoop. By delivering highly vocalized and controversial statements on issues that are not necessarily related to the core problem, such as the religion and “morality” based overtures, Mr Geelani has been playing a tricky game which has proven nothing but detrimental towards the achievement of a (any) solution.
The second setback in the light of the dialogue-to-be process was the murderous assault on Mr. Fazl Haque Qureshi (belonging to the “moderates” faction of the APHC). Just like many similar incidents in the past (such as, the attack on late Mr. Abdul Ghani Lone some years ago or Mr. Shaikh Abdul Aziz more recently), the identity of the culprit who carried out this attack will perhaps never be revealed. There is no doubt that the horrific act enormously added to the friction between the members of an already divided house to the extent of turning into a breach that may perhaps never be healed. Although the particular attack was in deed very shocking to many of us, a mischief such as this was perhaps on the cards given the heated atmosphere of the “talks”-talk and the opposition from various sections. The “quiet” talks did not turn out to be so quiet after all.
The third setback, and perhaps the most damaging of all, came in the form of the CBI report presenting an outrageously simplistic and utterly irrational analysis with regard to the alleged double rape and murder case of Shopian which has been haunting the valley for the past several months. Adding fuel to the fire were the remarks made by the Union Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. P Chidambaram, criticizing anyone debating the authenticity of the report or the analysis thereof, thus, leading to a great mistrust and anger among an already frustrated people. Such irresponsible behavior on part of the Minister was not only absolutely uncalled for, given the sensitivity of the occasion, it also made a complete mockery of the institution of “dialogue” advocated by him in the recent past. In the least, it has strengthened the position of the hardliners who are always on the look for exploiting such opportunities. Interestingly, one more horrific act has been committed in Shopian amidst this hullabaloo – the killing of a young girl by some “unidentified gunman” in front of her family members; the act is likely being attributed to “militants” by the government but could equally well be conceived of by the pro-freedom camp as an act of the government agencies.
Together, all these factors, plus a criminal silence on behalf of the state government, have resulted in a great degree of confusion and chaos leaving the Kashmiri people to lurch in a dark tunnel of hopelessness and despair. The question is whether it is New Dehli’s stand on talks for the sake of talks or the hardliners’ stand on opposition for the sake of opposition which is acting as a hurdle in the resolution process. Perhaps both and perhaps more! While we find an answer to this question, in a situation such as we are currently in, things may get worse before they get better provided the stake-holders — the separatist leadership, the pro-government parties and the government of India – come clean on what they stand for and commit to delivering what they promise. Let us hope that they do!
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(This article originally appeared in the daily Rising Kashmir, Dec. 23, 2009)