Conditional Talks?

Conditional Talks?

India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has stated that “”We are ready to talk to everyone… The entire nation wants the situation to normalise in Kashmir. We are ready to cooperate with everyone and have taken all initiatives in this regard. Rajnath added, “”Pakistan should, at least, make a beginning and say it is willing to talk and end the terrorist activities and seek the support of any country in the world (in ending terrorism). Pakistan should take an initiative”. Key to Rajnath’s formulation is the terminology that he employs and the omissions thereof. Instead of using the word peace, Rajnath employs the term “normalcy”. Similarly, in calling to attention Pakistan, Rajnath employs the word “terrorism”. A brief discursive analysis of these terms renders Rajnath’s attempts vacuous or empty. Here’s why. First, what does “normalcy” mean in the context of Kashmir? If an observer were to visit Kashmir today, he or she would find Kashmir “normal” if the yardstick would be scale of people living their daily lives- going to work, schools and business activity. But herein lies the glitch. Kashmir being Kashmir, the quotidian lives of people is an illusory façade which obscures the deep disturbances and the conflict that simmers under the surface calm. Kashmir continues to be like the proverbial bale of cotton, which simmers underneath till some catalytic event makes the bale explode in flames. In term of the use of the term, terrorism, Rajnath is being cavalier. It is clichéd to note that a there is no consensus on the term “ terrorism”. Given this ambiguity and elasticity, the term can be employed by any one and for whatever agenda. Moreover, besides terminological obfuscation, Rajnath is laying down a condition for Pakistan to talk. This probably emanates from India being a status quo power and thereby calling the shots, so to speak. But “conditional talks” – whatever the nature of the condition(s)- are no antidotes to resolving the conflict in and over Kashmir. The conflict has simmered for a very long time and has exacted a humungous toll especially in lives lost. If there is no resolution of the conflict, it might not be far fetched to hold that the conflict might transform into a truculent form and shape which then brooks no dialogue and will also hold hostage the prospects for peace in South Asia. To prevent this scenario, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to take a nuanced view of the conflict and engage in a bold and beautiful idiom of peace and dialogue. A fresh beginning that rids itself of past baggage needs to be made. This should be undergirded by sincerity of purpose and resolve. But , above all, this approach must not be conditional. It is these facts that Rajnath must understand. Reiterating clichés which Rajnath is doing merely ensures that the conflict remains frozen and not resolved.

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