By K.N. Pandita
The oft-repeated narrative of Kashmir valley leadership is that India should talk to Pakistan. Dr. Farooq Abdullah has been saying it endlessly so much so that his exhortation has lost impact. His son made this narrative his daily ritual. Amusingly, this ritualistic sermonizing has been louder and recurrent with both PDP Chief Ministers. This means there is a common thread running through the chant of dialogue. The point we are debating here is how much realistic is this chant.
Unsolicited pontification raises some questions. First and most important question is why these leaders are meticulously avoiding appeals to the seditionists and traitors to give up violence, lay down borrowed arms and come forward for talks with the Government of the State and Centre. Why don’t these leaders exhort their elected legislators to jump into the fray and go from home to home in their respective constituencies and engage the people in intensive debate on the question of accession to India? How can talks with Pakistan mean anything when Kashmir traitors continue to fight Indian forces? Who can stop fatalities as long as jihadis move around with guns and brutish ideology?
Secondly, why these leaders do not move beyond just doling out unsolicited pieces of advice to India to begin talks with Pakistan? Why they don’t take initiative, and after consultations with the Government of India, cross the border legally and engage Pakistani leadership, Pakistan army and Pakistan civil society in constructive dialogue. Are they apprehensive of Pak civil society dismaying them by reveling the shocking conditions in a bogus country and cautioning them of their foolish pro-Pak propensity? Sheikh Abdullah had tried it in 1964. His progeny should take a lesson from it.
These leaders are usually on pleasure trips to the Arabian, European and Western countries besides OIC member countries and the Gulf. There is sizeable Kashmiri Sunni Muslim Diaspora in those parts of the world and most of them actively anti-India are frugally donating through clandestine hawala to Kashmir sedition. Why does not Kashmiri leadership engage this segment and through them build opinion favoring ceasing of violence and creating environment conducive for bilateral talks between the two belligerent neighbours.
These are steps in right direction and the world community would highly appreciate if good sense prevails on Kashmir seditionist leadership.
Let us call a spade by its proper name. Kashmir leadership, of all hues, is deliberately avoiding the logical and rational course of tackling the problem. What do the Kashmiri seditionists and traitors want? They want cessation from India and accession to Pakistan. The mainstream political leadership is deeply hypocritical to engage the masses of people in a logical discourse. It has deliberately succumbed to an atmosphere of fear of gun wielders who are their own people. They feign to face bullets if they ask jihadis to give up the gun, talk of peace and analyze the situation objectively. Therefore nobody in the government or among the legislators is prepared to take up the gauntlet. Their cowardice keeps them away from speaking the truth. And a handful of thinkers who speak the truth are labeled as Indian agents.
The question is why then does the government spend enormous money in providing them top security? For what do they need security when they are not at all prepared to engage the people in a debate and when they speak the language of the people not their own. They are elected members and if their election has been fair, the masses of people are with them who can provide them far better and more dependable security. They are hunting with the hound and running with the hare.
Why then is Kashmir leadership passing on the buck to Government of India. There is a method in their madness. Firstly, raising the rhetoric of peace profiles them as peace lovers in the eyes of world community which, however, does not care to go into the nitty-gritty of their public posturing. Secondly, it is the safest and non-provocative theoretical slogan, which Government of India would not refute. Thirdly, and most importantly, raising this slogan conveys subtle message to Kashmir seditionists and traitors that Kashmir leadership is doing its best to make Pakistan a party to the dispute and any solution of the dispute would mean undoing of status quo. That line of thinking suits both the pseudo-nationalists and anti- nationalists. This is the common thread in the narrative of all Kashmir-based leadership whether in or out of power.
Kashmir leadership survives on the false impression that people will take them on their face value. They are still to understand that they are nursing a crumbling illusion. They gloat over the premise that they ethnically cleansed the valley and made an achievement. Yet they naively forget that those whom they extirpated played the clinching role of discrediting them on international plane as terrorist and jihadis and not freedom fighters.
After the surgical strike of 29 September, Dr. Farooq Abdullah and his party men have up-toned invocation for bilateral dialogue with Pakistan. In 1974, Sheikh Abdullah signed accord with Indira Gandhi after he realized the futility of Kashmiris fraternizing with Pakistan in the aftermath of Bangladesh war. The surgical strike has cleared one misunderstanding of Kashmir ambivalent leadership as well as Kashmir seditionists and traitors – the misunderstanding that India is incapable of taking military action against Pakistan.
Kashmir leadership has learnt with shock and flabbergast that India did not only venture the surgical strike but was also fully prepared for a bigger event if Pakistan dared to embark on the course of catastrophe. Surgical strike has sent a chill down the spine of Pakistani clientele in Kashmir. They are no more counting the days of Kashmir strike; they are no more discussing the veracity of surgical strike. What they are discussing with bewilderment is why al-Dawa and LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, in his very recent interview to an Islamic news agency, said that not India but America is the enemy of Muslims and that Pakistan should look for improving relations with India. They are discussing whether Hafiz Saeed has made sudden U-turn owing to the impact of lightening Indian surgical strike that left scores of jihadis and army men dead or is it because of newly discovered arm-twisting by China on Molvi Azhar intertwine. They are intrigued how come the civilian government in Islamabad facilitated Indian surgical strike and the consequential spat between the civilian government and army, made public by Dawn of 6 October. They are intrigued how all this drags Pakistan again to the brink of military coup. The Hurriyatis and their cohorts are alerted on the yawning gap between Pakistan army and the civilian government in the aftermath of Indian surgical strikes. Hurriyatis have forgotten calls for strike and are scrambling for political survival in Kashmir for which chances are diminishing fast.
Indian Government does not attach any significance to hollow “peace” slogans of Kashmir leadership, and rightly so. Nevertheless, it has been reading between the lines of Prime Minister Modi’s public speeches. Those carry hints about how the Government of India looks at seven decade old Kashmir blackmail. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj did some plain speaking by telling the UN General Assembly in New York that Kashmir is and shall remain integral part of Indian Union till eternity. That is the answer to hollow peace slogans of Kashmir leadership. A really sincere, honest and caring leader of Kashmir should tell the people of the valley in no ambiguous words that they should stop dreaming of Kashmir going to Pakistan because they mistakenly read the writing on the wall. Pakistan’s friends, China and Saudi Arabia in particular, impress upon her leadership to forget Kashmir and save their country from disintegration. The reason why Dr. Karan Singh, the scion of former Dogra ruling house says that Kashmir is not an internal affair or that Kashmir has not integrated into the Indian Union is that he knows after J&K is restored to its original geographical boundaries he will have to remain content with his drawing room couch as nobody is going to offer him the throne of his lost kingdom.
(The author is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).