Modi(fied) Stance?

Modi(fied) Stance?
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Narendra Modi, speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort on India’s Independence Day, stated that the problem of Kashmir will neither be resolved with bullets nor abuse(s); rather embracing Kashmiris will. Modi’s statement elicited reaction(s) from different political spectra of Kashmir. While Modi’s statement appears to be a bit off the path and suggests interest in dialogue, but it does not stand to scrutiny. The reasons pertain to the context and structural conditions in Kashmir. A military operation named “ All Out” which apparently means and calls for killing of all militants in Kashmir is complemented a squeeze and intense pressure on the Hurriyat leadership and allied political activists. The LoC ceasefire is in name only; almost every day there is a skirmish on the LoC. Overlaying these is a kind a quasi Cold war between India and Pakistan. Given these conditions, what do Modi’s statements mean? Context is everything. The context in Kashmir delineated here suggests that India is seeking to squelch and crush the armed component of the insurgency in Kashmir along with its political manifestation(s). Negotiating or indulging in dialogue given this context clearly implies that India is seeking to negotiate from a position of strength so that it holds all the cards in and under a given negotiating grid. That is, it wants to hold all the cards and then talk. This means that other stakeholders to the conflict in and over Kashmir will be on the defensive and yield to the status quo. In essence then, if this assessment is correct, then these negotiations will be shorn of substance. Negotiations are usually held between equals, or in the least, there should be some degree of parity in the process and substance of negotiations. Disparity and inequality in power means that only one party has leverage and can then dictate terms. Axiomatically then, the potential outcome of the negotiations gets skewed. This holds a resonance in Kashmir and the structural conditions that hold here contemporarily. In the final analysis and ultimately, talks and negotiations are the answer to the conflict in and over Kashmir. But these need to , if they to succeed and hold, especially from a long duree historical point of view, be held in a conducive atmosphere where no party feels shortchanged or hard done by. It is this than the prosaic realities of power that should and must concentrate the minds of powers that be.

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