By K.N. Pandita
At many places in the report, one comes across convoluted but totally indefensible logic. Is there any pragmatism in the assertion ascribed to the Prime Minister that “invisibility of LoC is the core element of a settlement and that it will come into being without a settlement?” Since this brings into focus the interplay of Parliament’s unanimous resolution of 1994, the interlocutors have, in their wisdom, tried to dilute the real import of that resolution by stating that “engaging Pakistan is the only way to move towards a solution.” This is cowardice not diplomacy and tantamount to saying that we stay put in Kashmir only on the goodwill of Pakistan.. The resolution in question asserts the will and power of the Indian State to get back the illegally occupied part of her territory in J&K. Justifying talks with Pakistan as having yielded small results after decades of talks should not become reason for the parliament to revisit the resolution in question.
Most of the recommendations made in connection with CBMs are vague, hypothetical and unrealizable. Separatists consider the proposal of constituting a constitutional committee nothing short of a repeat of ridiculously delaying tactics. The norms proposed for Centre-APHC (M) talks are arbitrary and ill-advised. (38) Interlocutors give undue importance to their recommendations by inviting Pakistan and PoK to consider them. What precisely has emerged from the series of talks held between the Centre and the APHC (M) so far so that one may expect more from them? While item 4 of recommendations (p.108) states Pakistan and PoK to consider the recommendations made by the team, only a couple of lines below, it discounts Pakistan’s role in political settlement. A type of subtle contradiction runs as undercurrent throughout various appraisals and recommendations. For example, we know that the State government has constituted inquiry into the case of unmarked graves. What necessitates the team to recommend establishing a judicial commission to look into the same matter? It is overdoing the things and thus counterproductive. If the team’s approach was unbiased and laced with ultra-humanism, then it should not have advertently sidetracked recommending inquiry into the Theo-fascist upsurge in the valley in 1989-90 and its fallout especially on minority community, Indian secularist practice and much trumpeted Kashmiriyat. In the calculus of Team Interlocutors, genocide (or akin to genocide in the words of the NHRC), exodus, ethnic cleansing, general loot of property, internal displacement and highly doubtful return and rehabilitation of a defenceless religious minority of Kashmir did not merit even half a paragraph in a 170-page Report on Kashmir in which two full pages are devoted to the promotion of so-called cultural activities like mushairas, storytelling, dancing, singing, farce (bhand pather) etc. (p.60-62) to build bridges of harmony. Another vague and illogical recommendation (p. 109) is this: “Finally, this Group recommends that agreement on a political settlement should not be made contingent on whether Pakistan is willing to enter into it.” It means to say that the Centre should go ahead with entering into an agreement of sorts with the APHC (M) even if “Pakistan in not willing to enter into it.” This is naivety par excellence. Who does the team want to befool?
Curiously, Chapter 6, the concluding chapter of the report, filling 10 full pages, is devoted to the brief history of PoK/Gilgit-Baltistan. One fails to understand the necessity of indulging in this exercise. To an observer it seems an attempt of profiling PoK as a viable entity with which negotiations could be undertaken. Comparison and contrast with the Indian part of the State is subtle and inoffensive. Why is it so? Certainly it is an effort to dilute the force of the Parliament’s unanimous resolution of 1994 to which we have alluded earlier. This is a dangerous move and can pose challenge to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
In summing up this rather lengthy essay, the impressions one gathers from the report are (a) the team has very faithfully stuck to the brief it received from the Home Ministry. Therefore observations and recommendations both are pre-meditated and not pragmatic. (b) Interlocutors have tried to smoothen a way for alignment of Valley-based dissident and PoK-based pro-nationalist political forces and sideline Pakistan in the process if Islamabad does not want to fall in line (c) water down force and impact of Parliament’s 1994 unanimous resolution on Kashmir (d) totally blackout history, relevance and role of internally displaced persons from PoK and Kashmir valley as an entity made meaningless to the future arrangement of the State, kind of unwanted baggage.
Before concluding this critique, it is in national interests that the Home Ministry returns the Report to the team of interlocutors with the advice of re-drawing its main observations and recommendations so as to be compatible with ground situation. We would suggest that revised recommendations should necessarily enfold the following:
(a) A clear and unambiguous message to the people and leaders that J&K State is not only an integral part of the Indian Union but is also crucial to the security and stability of the nation.
(b) Defence and security of North and North-Western borders of India should be of highest effectiveness and strike power not only in terms of weaponry and man power but also in terms of strategy and military tactics.
(c) Kid-glove handling of political minions in the State should be replaced by a powerful mechanism of accountability.
(d) Communal harmony and peaceful coexistence being a priority in the scheme of national interests, composite and inclusive twin-capital townships in Srinagar and Jammu are recommended. These will become the habitats of displaced families besides others whose resettlement is warranted by factors other than terrorism.
It will be disastrous to turn the clock back and re-open the subject of application of central laws to the state. Streamlining of administration, energizing delivery system and providing good governance are the rights never to be denied to the people. Democratic process has to be strengthened through purge and purification and not through protection and pusillanimity. Those who carry the impression that Kashmir is a unique issue and needs unique solution should rise above the issue itself if they really want to be pragmatic. There is no consideration higher than the nation and its interests. In the life of a nation a time comes when myths and shibboleths have to be dismantled once for all The truth of the axiom that people get the government they deserve cannot be diluted.