carrot & stick

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Oct 2017 11:18:46

WHEN Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of Independence Day, said, “Na goli se, na gali se, Kashmir ki samasya suljhegi gale lagaane se,” he was actually hinting at Central Government’s desire to launch the dialogue process in the troubled State. It is the Prime Minister’s firm belief that ultimate solution to the vexed problem of Kashmir does not lie in wielding the stick all the time. While dealing with the rogue elements, there is also the need to take into confidence other stakeholders in the society and open the doors for dialogue with saner elements. In the wake of the violence after the killing of terrorist spearhead Burhan Wani by the security forces, the Government had to use force to restore sanity and order in the State. Now the Government feels that the security forces have been able to break the back of terrorists and the situation is propitious to initiate the dialogue process. Sooner than later recourse to dialogue, at social and political levels, was the only means through which disgruntled and misguided elements could be made to join the peace process. Later Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh too had undertaken a probing mission to Kashmir to explore the possibility of restoration of dialogue and peace process. The appointment of an interlocutor for the purpose on Monday seems to be part of that well thought out exercise.

The task of bringing the disparate elements to negotiating table is so delicate that only a seasoned hand could handle the situation in a deft manner. And in Mr. Dineshwar Sharma, a former Director of Intelligence Bureau, and an old Kashmir hand, the Union Government sees an apt interlocutor on the Centre’s behalf. Although Mr. Sharma has vast experience, having worked in Kashmir for some years and later manning the Kashmir desk at the Centre, the situation in the last couple of years has been vitiated so much by the secessionist propaganda launched by Pakistan and its destabilisation efforts through terrorist network, he will be required to do much tight-rope walking and vast experience to open the doors for free and frank talks on all issues. He, along with Governor N. N. Vohra, who himself was appointed interlocutor by the then Prime Minister Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003, could form a good and effective team to initiate the process.

When Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh said that Mr. Sharma will have complete freedom on deciding as to whom to talk to, the question naturally was upper most in minds whether he will also speak to separatist Hurriyat leaders. This is tricky in view of the fact that most top Hurriyat leaders are in jail facing serious charges of moneylaundering. These leaders are known pawns of the Pakistan Government and they have been instrumental in causing much unrest in Kashmir at the behest of their Pakistani masters. Hence public opinion may be averse to involving such secessionist elements in the peace process. But there is no harm in letting their mind known so that the Government could chalk out its approach and response to them in a befitting manner.

While the security forces were fighting rogue elements unleashed by Pakistan through regular infiltration, they too were convinced that there was no substitute to opening dialogue with all the stakeholders. By appointing the interlocutor the Union Government has also made it known that while it would use the stick whenever required for national security purposes, it was not averse to keeping the doors open for dialogue with all stakeholders without of course compromising on national integrity and national interest. The latest initiative by the Centre offers a new opportunity to the people of Kashmir to embrace peace.