Guns fall silent in the Valley…….
The perplexing and complicated problem of Kashmir refuses to go away. Brave attempts, however, are being made in New Delhi. The Prime Minister had announced a Ramzan ceasefire as a goodwill gesture. Encouraged by the response, he announced on the floor of the Lok Sabha on Dec 20 that the ceasefire would be extended by a month. And in a major policy change, also declared that India would look at ways of reviving the stalled dialogue with Pakistan. Akrita Reyar reports.
The perplexing and complicated problem of Kashmir refuses to go away. Brave attempts, however, are being made in New Delhi. The Prime Minister had announced a Ramzan ceasefire as a goodwill gesture. Encouraged by the response, he announced on the floor of the Lok Sabha on Dec 20 that the ceasefire would be extended by a month. And in a major policy change, also declared that India would look at ways of reviving the stalled dialogue with Pakistan. Akrita Reyar reports. The thinking in New Delhi is simple. Make the people of the Valley used to peace. Once momentum is lost, it will be difficult for militants to resurrect terrorism. On the side the Government will continue to explore possibilities of accord with the aggrieved parties. An additional benefit is that such initiatives are widely welcomed by the rest of the world. There were some reports that the Hizbul Mujahideen leader on the Indian side, Abdul Majid Dar, was in New Delhi before the ceasefire announcement. Even if the claim is unfounded, the tone of the militant leader is conciliatory. It has been so since HM had announced truce in July. Dar has said that he would extend “fullest cooperation” to New Delhi’s initiatives. Another plus is that the ground situation, despite all attempts by some quarters to derail any settlement, has improved. People in Kashmir had called the ceasefire a Ramzan gift, they are describing the extension as Eidhi. Movement along the border has also reduced and fewer cases of infiltration have been reported. Not wanting to be left out in the cold, Pakistan announced that it would reduce troops along the LoC. The claim is yet to be verified by India. Unlike the time when HM had flirted with a peace attempt and the Hurriyat felt neglected, this umbrella group of 23 parties has welcomed the effort and offered to play negotiator this time around. They are now planning to visit Pakistan on Jan 15 to speaks to militants on that side of the border. The Hurriyat hasn’t abandoned it’s tough posturing though. The lingering scepticism was evident when Jamat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani told media that he couldn’t comment on the “motive” of the Indian Government. The fact is that the ceasefire has actually given all the involved parties time to take stock of the situation and assess the motive of the other parties. A cleavage has appeared between the indigenous and foreign mercenaries in the recent past. Not having achieved much in the last decade by waging war, weariness has set in. That’s why indigenous Kashmiri militants are more likely to be open to a solution. Finding itself cornered, Pakistan has also thrown in its hat. It would like to keep Kashmir alive due to domestic compulsions. But peace has more chance with Pakistan under a military regime compared to elected government. India remains intransigent about not giving an inch more than is already with Pakistan. It has also indicated that it is willing to hold dialogue but has ruled out tripartite talks completely. Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah would also have to be involved in a visible position. Last time Abdullah had waved the autonomy card on the government’s face when he was sidelined. Whether the government strikes a deal with at least some factions of militants or will allow Hurriyat to show the way is yet to be seen. Guns have fallen silent in the Valley…A word from diplomacy is awaited.