Incoherent and Confusing

Incoherent and Confusing
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India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the Indian Army will continue to respect the ongoing Ramazan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, but no “unprovoked attack” from across the border will go unanswered. On the possibility of engaging Pakistan in dialogue, Sitharaman reiterated External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s comments that talks and terror cannot go hand-in-hand. On the face of it multiple contradictions appear to define Sitharaman’s remarks. How, for instance, or what would be the import of the Ramadan ceasefire if and when hostilities against Pakistan are maintained? Or, what does the “terror” and “talks” formulation mean? If, hypothetically speaking, the Ramadan ceasefire is to be a prelude to talks, with a wider and a broader ambit, then obviously and naturally, Pakistan has to be engaged as one meaningful and substantive stakeholder. But, yet, Sitharaman appears to be putting a dampener on all this. The question is why? Any answer to this question would amount to second guessing but based on this very speculative guesswork, it would appear that a certain incoherence defines the Government of India’s (GoI’s) approach towards Kashmir and the conflict thereof. (The incoherence may also stem from turf wars between various organizations and ministries forming the GoI). Whatever the reasons, if there is no grand plan or strategy to deal coherently and meaningfully with the conflict in and over Kashmir, any tactical maneuver like the Ramadan ceasefire will just be that: a tactical maneuver operating in a vacuum. In the final analysis, any solution to the vexed and vexatious Kashmir conflict, has to and will be a multi stakeholder one, in which all stakeholders to the conflict, including the people of Kashmir, will sit down, so to speak and amicably resolve the conflict, in all its forms and dimensions. But, for this to happen, what has to precede any conflict resolution attempt or paradigm is clarity, coherence and a sense of purpose, in conjunction. All these factors or aspects, when they operate in a seamless fit, will have to be the sine qua non of any conflict resolution approach and paradigm in Kashmir. Half hearted, incoherent approaches or initiatives operating in a vacuum can only flounder on the rocks of reality. It, therefore, behooves powers that be, to take a step back, attain and develop clarity and coherence on the respective positions and stances they have taken. The rest might then be easier.

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