would be New Delhi's interlocutor?
is as good as official.
The ‘Kashmir Committee’ set-up by Ram Jethmalani is on the verge
of being done away with, after Jethmalani chose to step-in as the
defence council for S.A.R Gilani, one of the prime accused in the
attack on the Indian Parliament, much against the council of the
North Block, which was providing benefaction of sorts to the
Committee in the past.
is also believed to have earned himself a ‘bad name’ after he
made disparaging remarks on the suspension of the passport of the
former chairman of APHC, Mirwaiz Omar by the Home Ministry, shortly
before he was supposed to go on a what was described as a ‘private
visit’ to foreign shores.
is common knowledge that it was none other than the Deputy Prime
Minister L K Advani himself who had given ‘green signal’ to
Jethmalani to set-up a private citizen’s group consisting of
eminent Indian intellectuals to seek and break ice with the
separatist bandwagon in Kashmir, more than ever, the hard to pin
down, All Party Hurriyat Conference [APHC].
was, however, prior to the electioneering process in Kashmir, when
it was in general felt that the chipping in of APHC, if not
essential, was desirable for the overall health of the democratic
process in Kashmir.
Kashmir Committee failed in its primary objective to rope in APHC,
something, which did not go well with New Delhi. Furthermore, in the
post-election scenario, the position of New Delhi on Kashmir has
enhanced radically, and such
any future negotiations with APHC and company would take
place largely on the ‘terms and conditions’ laid down by the
if the indications are to be believed, is more likely to tone down
on its known rhetoric’s, and get on with the task of negotiation,
which they feel is the only way out to reinforce its position within
its own constituency in Kashmir, something, if the trends that are
emerging, are any signals, is dwindling with each passing day.
recent reshuffle of Union Cabinet undertaken by the BJP has a few
pointers for the expected policy measures that are likely to be
adopted by New Delhi vis-à-vis its Kashmir policy. The position of
L K Advani has been considerably consolidated, and from now on, its
is all along going to be Advani’s ‘hardliner’ policy.
tough antagonistic hard-line approach towards the separatist
bandwagon is also in line with the desired position of RSS (and
other Sangh Parivar outfits), and many believe is also a ‘crucial
ingredient’ for the party’s rejuvenated ‘nationalism’ mantra
in the forthcoming elections to nine states, including Himachal
Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which are due soon.
to be left behind, MoS for Home, I D Swami, wrote an article for a
leading national daily, sometime back, launching a scathing attack
on Mirwaiz Omar, and his brand of separatist politics setting the
likely trends that are to emerge from New Delhi. And, the likes of
such hard-hitting articles -- which had more to do with Omar’s
antagonistic position towards Indian in an interview to BBC sometime
back, something that really pissed the Home Ministry -- are going to
it is also generally felt that New Delhi has to undertake talks not
only with the separatist leadership but also with the elected
representatives of the state legislative assembly. The ‘present
timing’ for the proposed talks has two primary reasons: First, it
is better to engage separatists now, given that their position is
considerably weakened, not only in their own constituency in Kashmir
but also in the eyes of various influential think-tanks, who have a
lot of say in policy decisions of various western countries.
and most important reason stems from the fact that APHC has in
principle agreed to hold negotiations, without involving Islamabad,
at least at this stage. This is line with the principled stand of
New Delhi, which calls for talks with APHC and company separated
from any consultations with Islamabad on all outstanding issues
PDP-led government in the state is also insisting that New Delhi
should, as soon as possible, commence negotiations not only with the
members of the legislature but also with the representatives, who
symbolize the ‘other section of the public opinion’ (read APHC).
has wisely chosen not to talk about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the
dreadlocks of the larger Kashmir issue, and has instead concentrated
on the issues of good governance, and more importantly economic
revival of the trouble torn state.
that there has been a mounting pressure from within its own
constituency in Kashmir, and more importantly, from some of the
separatist groups, who has provided them with clandestine support
during the October 2002 elections, to take the onus of
responsibility in facilitating talks with New Delhi.
a matter of fact, there are hectic behind the scene parleys going on
at present with the intermediaries holding informal consultations
with the separatist bandwagon, including APHC to discuss the
‘modalities and broader framework’ of the proposed talks. New
Delhi is also believed to be playing it ‘extra safe’ this time
around given that its talks with the Naga rebels, despite
flexibility demonstrated by both sides, remained inconclusive.
the position of New Delhi’s ‘chief interlocutor’ for the
proposed talks, three names are doing rounds -- Wajahat
Habibullah, who had successfully mediated the Hazratbal seize by
militants in 90’s; A.S. Daulat, senior officer and former head of
RAW, is the officer on special duty for Kashmir in the PMO; and K C
Pant, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and a former
mediator on Kashmir.
Singh Daulat, who has all along been in touch with the separatist
leadership, including that of APHC appeared to be a front runner for
the job, given his vast experience as the head of RAW, but Mufti
Sayeed, it appears is not too comfortable these days with Daulat,
which has made North Block, and the PMO to explore other candidates.
is pertinent to recall that till not long ago Mufti Sayeed and
Daulat shared an excellent rapport, however the recent exclusion of
a close confident of Daulat, B K Vaishnavi (a PDP leader from the
Kashmiri Pundit community) from the recently expanded Council of
Ministers in J&K has led to an antagonistic feeling between the
two, with Daulat, explicitly making known to Sayeed that he is not
at all happy.
Minister Mufti Sayeed, it is believed is in favour of K C Pant as
the interlocutor for holding talks with the representatives as well
as the separatists. It may be recalled that K C Pant’s first
mission on Kashmir did not achieve much success, with APHC, then
adopting an antagonistic approach, refusing to talk with him,
without the participation of Islamabad. What his Mission Kashmir
(part I) did achieve was a vertical split in Hizbul Mujahideen, but
that was largely attributed to Daulat and company.
it is more than likely that Pant (who appears to be the front
runner) would be able to break ice, this time, with the separatists
more than eager to occupy positions across the negotiating table. So
to say that the talks are inevitable would be to state the obvious.
However, to expect that the process would be able to throw up
clear-cut solutions to the complex Kashmir issue, in the very near
future, would not be pragmatic.
negotiation process, as and when, it is underway is going to be a
prolonged one, with the two sides sticking to their guns (read
public posturing) to begin with. But, yes it would be a beginning in
the right direction.