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J&K Lens: Kashmiri leaders open doors for dialogue with Delhi

23/03/2021 at 12:44 PM

By Arun Joshi

Now it is almost certain that Kashmir-centric parties, particularly National Conference and PDP that had vowed to  be  in a standoff position with the Centre unless  Jammu and Kashmir’s special position and privileges were restored  have  conveyed to Delhi  in no uncertain terms that they were ready for dialogue to iron out their differences.

Leading the pro-dialogue campaign is National Conference president and three-time  chief minister  Farooq Abdullah who has stated in different media interviews that “ our dialogues for dialogue are open and we can enter into dialogue as and when Delhi wishes so,” and he explained that “ no issue can be resolved without sitting across the table of talks.”

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has also reiterated that the route to peace in the region passes through Kashmir , and she has returned to the idea of dialogue though with her original hypothesis of involving Pakistan as well. She was encouraged by the peace and dialogue terms used by Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

It is not mere a suggestion but also a  necessity that has arisen for the Kashmir-centric parties , primarily for four reasons – the format of dialogue is shaping between India and Pakistan , especially after the February 25 reiteration of the ceasefire agreement of ceasing all firing on the  Line of Control and other sectors that divide Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Second, the signals from Pakistan are  very solid that it wants to have talks with India for peace in  the region . These signals have  become stronger  following the  Islamabad Security dialogue ( March 17-19)  in which Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yousuf was deeply involved .

India cannot ignore these signals for its own  prestige as also as a responsible nation in the world . The world counts a lot on  India- it is the largest democracy in the world where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in distributing vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic has won him a lot of praise and international goodwill .

 One of the very  humane hint he delivered to Pakistan when he tweeted his best wishes for the speedy recovery of  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran  Khan  from Covid-19. Imran Khan and his wife had tested positive on Saturday and on the same day , Modi sent him his best wishes . Such words  have more meaning than mere wishes.. it is reflective of  intentions to  respond to the idea of engagement for the overall peace in the subcontinent.

Third, Indian diplomacy’s success in the start of the disengagement process  from Eastern Ladakh where India and China were in a tense stand off position  for 10 months  has also influenced the thinking of the Kashmir leaders . They know that India has stood its ground and achieved the necessary goals with China ..

“ If the  Modi  government can resolve the  issues with Pakistan,  China and  Nepal, why not us ,” Farooq said while hinting that it is an internal matter between Delhi and Srinagar.

Four, the  changing internal dynamics of the politics , too, have played a role in the transformed stand of the Kashmiri parties. 

Apni Party , the newest political party of Jammu and Kashmir was the first to initiative dialogue with the Centre in March last year and it has held varied discussions with  Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah .

Apni Party  president Altaf Bukhari has not hesitated in demonstrating his pain over the loss of the special status  of Jammu and Kashmir , but he has said that a consistent dialogue with Delhi would help ease situation.

 “ We have to be realistic . There is no escape route from the reality that exists now we can pitch for the restoration of the statehood to J&K,” he told this columnist , but there , he insisted , is the “ need to discuss our other concerns ,, the biggest of which is  the return of the statehood to J&K, without that we cannot achieve much. And that will come only if we are able to convince the national leadership the necessity of our demand . I am happy that we  were the first to raise and pursue the demand for the restoration of the statehood.” Now, he added,” it is a matter of great urgency for us.”

Kashmir is also witnessing  other political changes – People’s Conference  of Sajad Gani Lone  which was part of the People’s  Alliance for Gupkar Declaration or PAGD, parted ways with the alliance and started strengthening his political group. He got a shot in arm when former deputy chief minister and PDP patron Muzaffar Hussein Beigh joined his party.

Beigh  personifies politics with intellect .  He is having some links with the corridors of power in Delhi. The dots can be connected  as Sajad Lone had met Home Minister Amit Shah before saying goodbye to  PAGD.  Sajad was a minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government ( 2015-2018) from saffron party’s quota.

All the contours of the dialogue are taking shape, now it looks that it is a matter of time  before the table for talks is set up .

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune.

He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.

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This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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