Kashmir: diplomacy of confusion

By K.N. Pandita

Nobody, much less the protestors in the valley will be optimistic about the outcome of all-party parliamentary delegation’s recent visit to the summer and winter capitals of J&K. People in the valley got the impression that they came, listened, saw and went away. People in Jammu were left guessing whether the delegation would even at any point of time raise the issue of discrimination against the region. Not to speak of extending an invitation to them, the displaced Kashmiri Pandits had to put in an effort to be heard even superficially.

For the delegation there was neither a cheering word to hear nor reassuring situation to see. The wounded in the hospital, the attendant in the ward or the engineer on duty repeated faithfully what Ali Shah Geelani spoke to Yechuri.

Their word was of a community focused on seeing the Indian troops out of Kashmir and determined to win freedom from Indian presence.  

If Sushma Swaraj visited the Hazratbal shrine and showed obeisance, does it mean that till then she did not know that India was the second country with largest Muslim population? If Paswan became emotional and advocated for autonomy doest it mean he pulled out an acceptable solution of Kashmir tangle which nobody had thought of till then? If Chidambaram was put a “simple question” by a Kashmiri youth that why Kashmiris were “killed and victimized” does it mean the home minister of India   was proved a culprit?

It is easy for the opposition in the parliament to find fault with government’s Kashmir policy and pronounce a do and not do advisory: it is also easy for the ruling coalition to justify its right or wrong actions in Kashmir. But neither of the two exercises is going to pacify the protesters in the valley. They want hard talk.

To put it plainly, the delegation has returned home more confused.  It found beyond doubt that matters like withdrawal of AFSPA, release of jailed persons, controlling police excesses etc. including the demand for withdrawal of troops are only peripheral issues and not the core issue. The real issue is that people want India to go from Kashmir. Their complaints expressed repeatedly are not the real reason for asking India to go. The real reason is the philosophy behind the creation of Pakistan and what is called “the unfinished task of partition” and altruistic “two-nations theory”. Billions of Indian rupees could not wash it. That is the reality. Extirpation of the religious minority from the valley is the logical conclusion of that philosophy, which, amusingly, was endorsed and reinforced by Indian State’s unwillingness to rectify for last two decades.

Yes, there are some who do not subscribe to this line of thinking. This made Arun Jaitly say that everybody is not against India. But what is their strength on the ground? They might have voted the NC or the Congress to power but the overwhelming majority does not support them. If it did, there would not have been strikes and shut downs and street crowds. Take the case of Congress which has helped NC form a coalition government. Has it been able to hold a single massive public demonstration anywhere in the valley or in Jammu region to denounce anti-India rallies and slogans? The case of NC is no less disappointing.
The point is whether the all party parliamentary delegation has moved an inch to respond to people’s demand of freedom of Kashmir. There is no pointer towards that crucial question. It is easy to try to assuage the hurt feelings by promising to raise the issue in the parliament or make a stray and isolated statement to sympathies with the angry masses. These gimmicks have been made earlier also and perhaps more vigorously but without any result. In that sense the delegation has made a futile effort and could not make any impact on the ongoing situation.

In normal course of things, the delegation was expected to make a joint statement before leaving the state that J&K is an integral part of the Indian Union and no compromise will be made on political sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Indian Union. The delegation should have said that as upholders of the Indian Constitution, the question of demand of calling any part of Indian Union as “disputed” is tantamount to treason and hence has to be dealt with in accordance with the law of the land. The statement should have said that irritants and deprivations and other complaints, if any, are an internal matter and would be sorted out through proper remedial measures.

No statement of this tone and tenor has come from the delegation. By not touching on the core issue and by not reacting to it, the only exercise that the delegation has done was of having the time to relish sumptuous Kashmiri cuisine (wazwan).

A bold and decisive statement from the all party delegation would not have only removed the cobwebs of confusion entangling Kashmiris but would have also powerfully endorsed the unanimous parliamentary resolution of 1994 on Kashmir. By playing to the galleries, the delegation has caused more disappointment to those who still have faith in India’s secular and democratic credentials. They feel let down. This is not at all a happy development and in no way will their calculated silence on core issue be considered strengthening the national cause in Kashmir.

We cannot lose sight of the fact that on the eve of the visit of the parliamentary delegation to Srinagar, Pakistan National Assembly passed a resolution declaring that no talks with India would be held unless Kashmir is at the top of the agenda. Our parliamentarians should have taken note of it and responded in a befitting manner. They should have or at least someone more concerned with national interests should have reiterated India’s will and determination to take back the areas of the original state forcibly occupied by Pakistan or illegally ceded by her to China. Somebody from the delegation should have warned the people of the State of expansionist aspirations of China in our State and the abetment of Pakistan in those designs. Somebody should ha ve told them that a constitution safeguarding the rights and privileges of two hundred million Muslims of Indian Union could well take care of seven million Kashmiri Muslims as well. Somebody should have told them that if they are not content with Indian Constitution plus Article 370 plus J&K State Constitution plus demand for greater autonomy/self-rule (which may not be denied too long), will they be content with “aazaadi” and lastly accession to Pakistan? Obviously, they will be content with nothing of the sort.
The End.

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