Indo–Pak Détente?

Indo–Pak Détente?

The consensus view that has emerged at the London School of Economics South Asia Forum between former spy chief’s of India and Pakistan, A S Dulat and Ehsan ul Haq is that only dialogue can resolve the conflict in and over Kashmir. This assertion or consensus is a veritable truth and it is good that the former spy chiefs have reiterated it. Another thematic issue that has emerged in the conclave is that the employment of hard power and coercion is basically mug’s game vis a vis Kashmir. That is, it will not work. This too is correct not only in terms of Kashmir but generically speaking. While the South Asia Forum of the London School of Economics, which organized this conclave or seminar, will not amount to a policy change by powers that be regarding Kashmir, but the silver lining is that some sober views about Kashmir have been articulated in the public domain. The context to the seminar and the views articulated thereof has been the Indian state’s “ no holds barred” approach towards Kashmir. This approach entails killing as much militant cadre as possible and putting pressure on the spectrum of politics that seeks a; resolution of the Kashmir conflict. The premise of this approach appears to be based on wishful thinking: that is, battling manifestations of the conflict will lead to its resolution. The conflict in and over Kashmir is one where multiple stakeholders have a robust stake in. Ignoring these stakeholders and using the techniques of mere coercion and pressure , from a socio- historical perspective guarantees recidivism of the conflict, in one form or avatar or the other. This approach then is not even a short term one; its conceptual and practical import is as flawed as can be. Kashmir needs a holistic, multi-stakeholder approach to conflict resolution. This is what history of conflict(s)- both generically and particularly- suggests. Approaches other than this are purely ahistorical as they go against the gravamen of history. Ultimately, there will come a time when dialogue between India and Pakistan over Kashmir will be necessitated by both the direction of history and the needs of the South Asian region. The accruing détente would then be the broader template for conflict resolution. Prudence and far sightedness would have suggested that the nettles of conflict resolution be grasped now. As they say, “ a stitch in time saves nine”. But , alas, as for now, pride and prejudice militate against this!