An Old Chestnut?

An Old Chestnut?

Ram Madhav, the general secretary of the Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP) has stated that New Delhi is open to and ready for a dialogue with every stakeholder in Jammu and Kashmir. On the face of it, this assertion sounds prudent , but as they say, “ the devil lies in the detail(s)”. And, detail is something that Madhav has not dwelt upon nor delineated. Moreover, the prospect of dialogue has been dangled when the major stakeholders to the conflict are under tremendous pressure. This is overlain by a counter insurgency grid or paradigm that aims at killing as many militants as possible. (This approach has been termed as “Operation All Out”. Under these circumstances, what does the offer or prospect of dialogue mean? The issue then becomes more or less, rhetorical. This is not to suggest that dialogue is bad or there should be no dialogue. Ultimately, the conflict in and over Kashmir will be resolved through dialogue itself. But the conditions that would make this dialogue fruitful and worthy are those in which there is parity in negotiations and the ultimate end of the dialogue should and must be the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, keeping in view the interests of all stakeholders. But, New Delhi appears to believe and adhere to the view that bringing to bear utmost and intense pressure on stakeholders and breaking off relations with Pakistan would be the crucible of conditions under which dialogue can take place. This is as flawed as can be. The conflict in and over Kashmir has multiple stakeholders. The goals and ambitions of some of the stakeholders has been to seek leverage on the conflict by making a statement of a political nature. Unless and until , this is recognized and accepted, the offer of dialogue will be meaningless. Dialogue and negotiations that underpin it have to occur in an atmosphere where every stakeholder has a voice and , to repeat, there is negotiating parity. All this is given short shrift by powers that be in Kashmir by creating conditions where other stakeholders are on the back foot. Moreover, the ultimate end(s) of dialogue has to be an outcome. In the context of Kashmir, this outcome must satisfy every stakeholder – especially the people of Kashmir. But, Madhav is silent on the outcome and the ultimate end of dialogue. The offer of dialogue is more form than substance. What Jammu and Kashmir and its people need is a substantive, vigorous approach and paradigm which leads to the final and ultimate resolution of the conflict in and over Kashmir. This, given the conspicuous absence of substance to Madhav’s assertion, does not seem to be on the radar –as of now.

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