T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Vol I Issue XI

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

March 2003

I N S I D E


Spotlight 

Romeet K WATT

 

Comment     

A B Vajpayee

 

Column     

S Chaulia       

                   

View Point      

Romeet K WATT

 

On Track     

Romeet K Watt 

                  

Opinion

Kanwal Sibal

 

Analysis

Sawraj Singh

 

State Craft

Subhash Kapila

 

Perspective

T R Jawahar

 

Last Word

Anil Narendra 

 

                            


 

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C o p y r i g h t 

S P O T   L I G H T

Vohra IN, Jethmalani (get) OUT 

Romeet K WATT


New Delhi has eventually appointed the long-awaited interlocutor to commence parleys with the elected representatives of the J&K state legislative assembly and the separatist bandwagon, including All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). N N Vohra, former Home Secretary is the Centre’s choice. The other names that were initially doing rounds were that of K C Pant, former negotiator; A S Daulat, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW); Wajahat Habibullah; and Union Law Minister, Arun Jaitley.

 

There was also a lot of speculation that New Delhi might appoint two different interlocutors: One, for initiating talks with elected representatives, who are already a part of the national mainstream; the other for separatists, who represent the other shades of the public opinion. Some think-tanks within the government were of the view that any negotiations with separatists, separated from parleys with the elected representative of the legislature would be, in the long run beneficial for New Delhi.

 

Arun Jaitley was tipped to be appointed as chief negotiator for talks with the elected representatives, given his vast expertise in the nitty-gritty of legal and constitutional matters, nevertheless, it is reliably learnt that some senior BJP leaders were disparaged to the idea of BJP directly involving themselves in the peace process, which could, given the complexity of the subject matter, put BJP in a spot of bother with Sangh Parivar outfits, especially Vishwa Hindu Parishad, who are central to the victory of the party in the forthcoming assembly elections in some states.

 

In the first place, BJP on the whole was not very keen on initiating the peace process at this stage and wanted some more time to put more pressure on the separatist bandwagon, and further weaken their position before holding any talks. On the other hand, given the promise on the issue of holding dialogue by none other than the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee himself from ramparts of Red Fort during his Independence Day speech, BJP had very little choice but to give in to the insistence of Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, to start the peace process and, appointed N N Vohra for the purpose.

 

A seasoned bureaucrat, 66-year-old Vohra has served as Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister I K Gujaral and in his capacity as Defence Secretary, has headed a committee that investigated the politician-criminal nexus in 1995. A fine administrator, Vohra has dealt with the Kashmir problem in his capacity as home secretary, and is not new to the convolutions of the Kashmir issue.

 

His other high profile assignment was in the capacity of the chairman of the committee on the internal security that was set as a follow up of the report of the Subramaniyam Committee on the conditions that led to Kargil war. He has also been in the past a firm advocate of “stringent laws to meet the challenge posed by rising militancy.”

 

Speaking at a seminar in January 2000 Vohra said that TADA had failed to effectively address the situation and those who talk of human rights should realise the ground reality by assessing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir where terrorists have killed thousands of people "and our existing legal system has failed to combat terrorism there". 

 

PDP led coalition has welcomed the fresh initiative, with the Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed describing the developments as “very good news.”  It is pertinent to recall that the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the PDP-Congress outlined that the state government would request Government of India to initiate and hold wide ranging consultations and dialogue, without conditions with the elected representatives and other sections to evolve a “broad based consensus on restoration of peace.” 

 

This fresh initiative gives a new lease of life to PDP, whose own domestic constituency within Kashmir, had begun feeling disillusioned with their own party for its failure to persuade New Delhi to commence talks.

 

The focus now shifts onto what in diplomatic parlance is called, “brief” or “the terms of reference,” for the proposed talks, which would be set by New Delhi, or more specifically the North Block for its new interlocutor, N N Vohra, before they are officially underway. One of the reasons, K C Pant, former interlocutor on Kashmir was not able to break ice with the separatists was for the reason that his ‘brief was limited,’ which did not make available to him much leeway to take the initiative to any logical conclusion.

 

APHC, one of the main separatist groups with which Vohra is likely to hold discussions has been, as was expected too guarded in their opinion on the developments, something which is on the expected lines. However, it is reliably learnt that APHC has agreed in principle to commence negotiations with the designated interlocutor. 

 

The initial official reaction of APHC that is available with the author said that the amalgam hoped that a dialogue process would be set in motion to find a ‘permanent and lasting solution’ to the Kashmir issue as per the wishes of the people of the state, which is in line with the official stand of the party, except that there is no involvement of Islamabad in the whole process, a definite climb-down on part of APHC.

 

It would be relatable to point that APHC, Pakistan Chapter has termed the appointment of a fresh negotiator by New Delhi as a futile exercise, and has said that any fruitful negotiations on the Kashmir issue would require the involvement of all three parties: New Delhi, Islamabad, and the people of Kashmir (typical Pakistani Parrot Speak).

 

The past experiences on various peace initiatives on Kashmir have not yielded desired result, which makes one see the fresh initiative with an element of scepticism. One wonders what happened to earlier interlocutors like K C Pant, Arun Jaitley and Ram Jethmalani? Did they achieve any element of success in unshackling the dreadlocks of the larger Kashmir issue or not? If so, why has the government not officially made public the outcome of these past initiatives? 

 

The people of India also deserve to know the ‘terms of reference’ or else ‘brief’ for the proposed talks. Enough of tamasha in the name of Kashmir. Let us for God’s sake have one coherent policy on Kashmir. Is somebody at North Block listening?

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