Breakthrough in a political impasse

By K.N. Pandita

The resumption of political activity in the post-5 August stalemate in J&K was not really unexpected. What is important is the tone and tenor of an emerging initiative. Whatever the contours of the initiative, the fundamental question is whether there is a realistic approach to the ground situation. Therefore, to make an initiative a success and anticipate more political activists joining the new initiative depends on a move forward and no retracing of steps.

Seven out of eight members who met and talked to the Lt. Governor recently, are considered among the dissenting group of PDP. The eighth member, too, has connections with PDP. The simple inference is that this group did not endorse the pro-Pak line of the Chairperson of PDP. No NC member was part of the delegation. It is a moot point whether NC can throw up a more realistic and pragmatic group, especially from among the youth capable of initiating either a near similar liberalized initiative to address current J&K political scenario or chalk out its own pragmatic agenda.

Late Mufti Saeed nursed a vision of liberalized and non-dynastic power centers for the State. The idea had many takers across the state on the presumption that even a good custom could corrupt the world. Perhaps the 2014 incongruous BJP-PDP coalition government had been formed on the same presumption and, of course, to the detriment of Jammu and Ladakh regions. However, perhaps he had not hoped that his daughter and successor would burn her boats and jump onto the bandwagon of Jama’at-i- Islami. Veteran political thinker and senior PDP member Mr. Muzaffar Baig never had smooth sailing in the PDP ship piloted by Mehbooba.

The memorandum presented by the delegation to the Lt. Governor somehow carries a mixed message of prefatory nature. Of course, the initiative must have entailed a good deal of preliminary spadework even if the text is loosely structured. The media hype given to the matter adds to the notion that something serious is being contemplated.

Vagueness is the hallmark of Kashmir jurisprudence, and the memorandum is not an exception to the rule. While the delegation suggests that the center should not depend solely on security option nor deal with peoples’ aspirations through “law and order prism”, it does not spell out how else the full-throated armed insurgency and anti-India tirades could be contained. It could have hinted at a political process in which political leadership predominantly performs the crucially important nationalist role. Likewise, the theory of “solidification of the idea of pluralism and respectful coexistence” becomes meaningful and only when there is a clear approach to the reversing of the exodus syndrome for internally displaced peoples since 1990. Agreed that the Centre should “re-examine its policy its decades-old policy vis-à-vis Kashmir…”, but then the political class, existent or emergent, too, needs to re-visit its fossilized stand and take regional and international realities into consideration. There is also the need of bringing not only the backward and deprived segments of people into focus for development but also the religious minorities of the erstwhile state who were conspicuously ignored in the constitution of J&K while the national minorities continued to draw the benefits accruing to them under law. How does the delegation look at this issue has not been touched upon at any place in the memorandum?

However, the circumstances in which the presumptuous front is emerging demand that prudence is the better part of the game. Kashmiris have suffered mostly owing to either the disastrous ambivalence of its leadership or owing to credulity and gullibility of her people. A people willing to submit itself easily to massive disinformation begin to believe in their own lies. Who can save them from this malaise?

The present stalemate cannot go forever. The initiative has to be taken by the civil society to put an end to it. Therefore the delegation led by Altaf Bukhari should be welcomed because, after all, differences are to be ironed out through dialogue. If this group has decided to work not only with prudence but also with pragmatism, it can induct fresh blood into the veins of Kashmir. Many of the demands stated in the memorandum should be both adjustable and acceptable. For example, what harm is there in re-visiting the J&K issue in the light of the issues faced by some of the Eastern States, and if a reasonable via media could be projected why not give it a serious thought. Similarly, the idea of protecting land and job rights of the people of J&K is a fairly reasonable demand and there are such provisions in other states also wherefrom the modules could be borrowed including with modifications. Release of detained students and leaders is not an issue as it had become unavoidable for ensuring the security of life. As far as the demands for development of agriculture, horticulture, industry, etc. are concerned, these are not serious issues and the Union Territory administration has already taken these in hand. However, the issues pertaining to J&K Bank have to be looked into seriously because of criminality element hovering over the bank rightly or wrongly needs to be clarified. It is an administrative matter and will be sorted out in due course of time.

Finally, it is to be appreciated that the ex-lawmakers, politicians, and ministers have taken the initiative and opened the window for dialogue. We should appreciate the expectation of many more politicians, intellectuals and social workers joining the new and maiden initiative and we are hopeful that with patience, perseverance and with pragmatism, the hardships faced by the people in Kashmir will be overcome.

Comments are closed.