By K.N. Pandita
Inter-communication between the interlocutors and separatists on one hand and intra-communication process among the Hurriyatis makes dialogue drama in Kashmir more bizarre. While senior Hurriyat (M) leader Ansari finds no obstruction to talks if its conditions are accepted, Shabir Shah’s party an affiliate of Hurriyat (M) has, in his last minute letter, spelt out the conditions. Team Interlocutors has to respond to these moves. Padgaonkar seems to be boastfully confident that the Home Ministry “has to accept our recommendations though it is not bound to accept those of Jaithmalani Committee.” Who does he want to fool? If that is the case, then there is truth in what the separatists allege, namely the interlocutors are moving along the lines dotted by the Home Ministry. In other words, it is a face saving exercise by the Home Ministry.
Rules of procedure do not substantiate Padgaonkar’s claim that the government is bound to accept the recommendations of his team, howsoever comprehensive and all-satisfying these be. No sovereign government is bound to accept the recommendations of a team which it has constituted for a specific purpose if these run counter to the fundamental philosophy and constitutional propriety in one way or the other. Even if the team interlocutors are a ploy of the Home Ministry to make concessions to the separatists in Kashmir, it has no justification to pronounce finality of its verdict. In the matter of Kashmir, it is the parliament whose word has finality keeping in mind the special status and sensitivity of Kashmir. Furthermore Padgaonkar has finally and faithfully stated in the press conference that his team has the mandate for Kashmir Valley though it did visit Jammu and Ladakh and met with some people and groups there but that could be just a balancing act and does not mean much.
The highlights of the teas report are still unknown but it is boasting of having taken into account all shades of opinions in Kashmir Valley. In the same breath it says that its mission will not be deterred by negative approach of the separatists. At the last moment, it has affirmation of the conditions put forth by Shabir Shah in his last minute letter to the team. It took the team five months to make on spot study of Kashmir situation and formulate its recommendations but it took it just one night to express positive and affirmative response to Shabir’s conditions. Bizarre indeed is the entire drama. Who will believe that the trio has a magic wand to iron out glaring and diametrically opposed views among the groups in Kashmir? It claims to have found space for greater autonomy, self-rule, azaadi (though alluded to only diabolically), etc. into account. So the valley gets them all at one and the same time. Really a magical wand, Mr. Padgaonkar. And if only Kashmir Valley is the concern of the team interlocutors, it will have to reflect on various rehabilitation plans offered by the representatives of nearly half a million internally displaced persons who are part and parcel of Kashmir Valley and without whose concurrence there can be no solution to the problem. There have been some very positive and practicable options offered by them like the twin-city capital for Kashmir. The team cannot push such constructive options of their rehabilitation under carpet when the Prime Minister and the Home Minister are already in know of these options. These suggestions meet all national interests like national integration, communal harmony, composite culture and a vision for future of secular democratic Kashmir. If these are the parameters of return of peace and normalcy then conducive options carry much weight. Nevertheless, it has to be said that an approach to J&K situation has to be a composite and inclusive one and all the three regions have to be there on the graph of the team. It is for the first time that a serious attempt is made by the centre to address the problems of the State. But it would have been better if the team maintained discretion in what it has been saying publicly. It should desist from making threadbare statements or making decisive claims knowing that the matter it is handling is too complicated to be treated nonchalantly.
Recasting relations with Arabs
There appears a change of heart in Islamic Brotherhood, Egypt’s Islamic party that was banned by the deposed president Hosni Mubarak for fear of its role in fueling Islamic movement in Egypt and elsewhere. The Brotherhood has approached Indian ambassador in Cairo that India help holding free and fair elections in Egypt for installing a democratic government when time comes. It is an indirect tribute to India, the world’s largest democracy, for her experience and conviction in consolidating the power of the people. Even the US Minister of State, Hilary Clinton is reported to have talked to the Indian foreign minister in this behalf. India will naturally take the request in its stride knowing that relations with Egypt during Hosni regime were not that cordial. If New Delhi accepts to play a role when time comes, it should be only to prove its conviction in establishing democracy in the Arab State and not claim it a point over its adversary. The Brotherhood is trying to give a proof of its desire of bringing a democratic government in Egypt, which could be a precursor to similar role in other Arab states now on the verge of shifting from despotism to dictatorship. India must give a good account of her in this important area and play a role in democratizing entire Muslim world to the great benefit of their masses. India has a stake in democratic Arab world where no fewer than four million Indians are working at the moment. The entire gamut of Indo-Arab relationship has to be bought on a new philosophy and approach. Even the United States would become a backbench supporter to the process. This role will be far more useful and result-oriented than the non-alignment with which India got stuck up for too long a time and with little gain.