Between Power Politics and Dialogue

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United Nation’s chief Antonio Guterres has ruled out any mediation to resolve the Kashmir issue unless all parties agree to it and asked India and Pakistan to address their outstanding issues through talks amidst heightened tensions along the border. The UN through its spokesperson also said that, in principle , good offices of the UN chief are always available for mediation, but everyone needs to agree on involving the world body. The backdrop and the context to the UN chief’s statement(s) are the ongoing skirmishes between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control(LoC). Guterres’ assertions are, more or less, symbolic and, amount to a very mild semiotic “intervention” which means, rather loosely, “crisis diplomacy”. This kind and nature of diplomacy is something that Kashmir and perhaps other “frozen” conflicts have witnessed in the past. The gravamen of crisis diplomacy is that it generally seeks to douse the fires, so to speak. That is, it is called and spurred into action by the heat of a given crisis but leaves underlying dynamics untouched. But, given the nature of the conflict in and over Kashmir, this may actually be besides the point. The conflict is deep rooted one whose well springs flow from competing and contending territorial sovereigntisms and the corollaries that flow from this. Moreover, the conflict has over time been nuclearized. But, what is key and remarkable is the energy that India and Pakistan expend, the former in maintaining the status quo and the latter in altering it. In this crucible, it is the people of Kashmir who suffer. From a broader and somewhat abstract perspective, both the conflicting parties are, in many ways, resisting history, the lessons of which suggest that , in the ultimate analysis, disputes, both the prosaic variety and the political types are resolved through dialogue. Truculence does not work; it merely prolongs disputes and does not resolve them. In this sense, the United Nations’ chief is right in positing and implying that India and Pakistan must enter into a dialogue to resolve their conflicts. In practice, however, it has been observed that the conflict over Kashmir has and is becoming victim of power politics which, again from a historical standpoint means conflict prolongation. It behooves India and Pakistan to actually stand back from the positions that they have locked themselves into and take that metaphorical deep breath that will accord them the clarity and insight that both need to get a real perspective in Kashmir. This exercise will reveal the obvious: the need for a real , meaningful and sincere dialogue with people of Jammu and Kashmir central to it.