Kashmir Truth Be Told Blog
Yus neereth gassan, pheereth cha yevaano: morda che gassan zinde (Kashmiri saying)

5/27/06

Round-table conference

The recent round-table conference held here shows that the Indian government is sincere in their attempts at bringing a resolution to the violence-ridden era of our state; it also shows that they are ready and willing to consider the views of separatist groups in Kashmir. Mr. Manmohan Singh seems to be an amiable person who would consider any option that brings about peace to this region. Why otherwise would he invite separatist groups to the discussion table.

When any group is loath to participate in a civilized discussion about a disagreement, people can be forgiven to suspect that group's motives. All parties that were invited to the round-table discussion held in srinagar should have participated. I am very displeased with Hurriyat for not attending. The quagmire that Kashmir is in cannot be resolved if different parties put their individual interests at the forefront instead of the greater wellbeing of the state. Anybody who is a well-wisher of Kashmir and is in politics for the 'greater good' of all Kashmiris should work toward bringing Kashmir back to the days when petty disagreements between people of rival opinions were not resolved with Klashnikovs. This involves participating in discussions with the Indian government--no matter how inconvenienced they are by participating; because the only other option is to rely on violence to propagate their separatist ideals.

The latter option, as we have witnessed for the past two decades maintains the status-quo and does absolutely nothing to move the state any further toward the perceived goal of independence or for that matter toward anything fruitful that the people of Kashmir can celebrate and be proud of. For instance, if Kashmir had gained any more autonomy or self rule because of the insurgency, the separatists could have claimed that victory. However, I am hard pressed to think of any gain that the violent uprising has brought to the independence movement. If anything, I can argue that more self-governing powers were diluted over these two decades.

The recent disagreements that the governor Mr. Sinha had with Mr. Mufti Syed in regards to the Amarnath yatra emphasizes this loss of governing power. This is because of the simple reason that an appointed official is blatantly trying to undermine the authority of an elected representative of the people. What makes this case more absurd is that the position of a governor in the constitution of India is more of a ceremonial nature than one of governance. Think how alarming it would be if Mr. Kalaam tries to interfere with the functioning of the PM's office by imposing his personal views on decisions made by the PM. Those actions would would be unacceptable to pro-democracy individuals, and so should the actions of Mr. Sinha. This instance clearly illustrates the erosion of governing power of the elected governments of Kashmir since the beginning of the violent insurgency.

Let's assume for a moment that all separatists, by joining the Hurriyat Conference, had opted for the political route instead of fighting it out on the streets with AK 47's. They would have captured the symapthy of the majority of the state's populace and would have replaced the autocratic National Conference as the 'natural' governing party of J&K. When in government, they could have made more progress toward their cause than ever possible with violence. Even if Hurriyat is able to see this fact now, they can reap the benefits of being recognized as the party that steered Kashmir away from sinking deeper into this quagmire of daily violence.

Even though NC and PDP keep repeating the mantra of obtaining maximum autonomy for J&K, we all know that wish is never going to materialize as long as either of these are in power. With a 2/3 majority in the last elections, NC could have easily realized that promise. I will talk further on this in a different post, but the point I wish to get across is that a separatist party like Hurriyat would have easily been able to achieve autonomy or self rule for Kashmir had they been in power instead of NC.

The sooner separatists groups wisen up to the fact that Kashmir has a lot to gain by being part of the Indian union, the better it will be for all of us. I will further explore the reasons for this in a separate post.

All separatist groups need to take advantage of every opportunity that the Indian government offers them of having a meaningful discussion. They should be willing to talk and put forth their views in a civilized manner, instead of balking out because of personal issues or their parties' wierd political tactics. I as an ordinary Kashmiri cannot forgive them for any further loss of life in the pretext of fighting for an Independent Kashmir or demanding a plebiscite, when they are not willing to have a civilized discussion first.

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