Between Rhetoric and Reality

Between Rhetoric and Reality
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In a written reply to a question by Shiromani Akali Dal member, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, on whether the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has recently asked the GoI to talk to Pakistan for peace in the state, Government of India’s, Minister of State for Home, Hans Raj Ahir said, “No such proposal has been received from the state government”. This statement , made in the upper House of the Indian parliament, is surprising given that Mehbooba Mufti, often times iterates the need for a dialogue between India and Pakistan, especially over Kashmir. If Ahir’s assertion holds, then there is a massive gap between the rhetoric of Mehbooba and the actual reality. The Chief Minister is then making these pleas for dialogue for mere public consumption. Sincerity of these dialogue pitches would have been real if formal communication between New Delhi and the Jammu and Kashmir administration would have been opened and made. In a way, this contradiction corresponds to the history of the political rhetoric and reality between Jammu and Kashmir’s various administrations and New Delhi. The so called “mainstream” political class of Jammu and Kashmir trots out and plays up the dialogue rhetoric to the people of Kashmir without actually meaning to do so. At one level, it appears to be a vote catching exercise and, at another, an attempt to say what people want to hear, without incurring any costs. The reasons for this, in turn, appear to be premised on not offending New Delhi and thereby keeping it in good humor. All this appears to reflect the tenor and drift of relations between New Delhi and the “mainstream” political class of Jammu and Kashmir, a relationship which has gradually but inexorably become more and more asymmetrical over the years with political space being ceded by this class to New Delhi for power political reasons. This then explains, to a large extent, the contradictory positions of “mainstream” class. However, it does not negate the need for a sustained, serious, and substantive and results oriented dialogue between India and Pakistan on the conflict in and over Kashmir and its resolution, in the interests of all stakeholders and the aspirations of the people. In the final analysis, it is actually New Delhi which would have to talk and engage meaningfully with Pakistan and vice versa. But, it would be in the interests of the people, if the “mainstream” actually comes out clean, and makes its stance clear.

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