Calling off FS level meet

By K.N. Pandita

Besides the separatist and secessionist leadership, ruling and opposition parties too have slammed New Delhi’s decision to call off the foreign secretary level meeting between India and Pakistan slated for 25th of August in Islamabad.

The decision of holding foreign secretary level meet was taken in the aftermath of Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with Narendra Modi on the occasion of latter’s oath taking ceremony in New Delhi in May last.

Both had decided to break the ice and Modi took the initiative. The expectation was that a new chapter would be opened in bilateral relations.  

Nawaz Sharif had to do quite a bit of homework to make his Generals agree to his visit to Delhi.
The question is this: Are the Generals comfortable with Nawaz Sharif essaying for normalization of relations with India?

This is what the Generals will never agree to. The army finds Nawaz Sharif silently inching towards Indo-Pak détente. It must prevent this ominous development.

In current circumstances Army cannot enforce military coup in Pakistan. It lacks competent leadership; it is engrossed in life and death struggle fighting its Frankenstein in Waziristan and it cannot muster international support for the coup.

Hence it is trying other means; working cat’s paw to PTI and the fanatical cleric Tahirul Qadri who have mobilized frenzied radicals to march on to capital in numbers to destabilize their elected prime minister.

To heighten pressure on the elected government, Pak army and ISI combine have activated border along LoC and IB with India in the hope of an over-doze of retaliatory measure by the Indians. Army would want to whip up anti-India frenzy and thus open another front against Nawaz Sharif.

Fortunately New Delhi showed remarkable statesmanship in restricting its reaction to calling off the foreign secretary level meeting.

Inviting Kashmir separatists and secessionists to pre-FS meet is Pak military’s rebuttal to Nawaz Sharif declining to meet with them when he was previously in New Delhi.

Kashmir separatists have raised hue and cry why New Delhi called off the meeting. If they are sincere that the two countries should talk in congenial atmosphere, then they should have strongly protested against unprovoked firing on the LoC and IB going on for last two weeks. They should have also protested against militant attacks on security forces in Pulwama and other places in the valley during recent past. They have observed silence which means they want militancy to continue in Kashmir. Not only that, they even criticized Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for asking the militants what were their gains out of two decades of militancy.

Separatists and the opposition have been repeatedly talking about excesses by security forces in Kashmir and the loss of innocent lives. Nobody is happy with loss of life but none of them appeals to militants to eschew violence. Since they do not make an appeal like that the inference is that they support violence.

For New Delhi, the position is clear and simple. Militancy and talks cannot go on simultaneously.
Separatist and secessionist leadership has no representative character in Kashmir. They are not part of democratic process because they have turned it down, not once but all times after 1986. Yes, they do whip up religious sentiments of the people in Friday congregations. Their politics may go by religion, the world does not.

Yes, India and Pakistan have been talking and will talk more about Kashmir. Yes, Kashmiris are the stakeholders. They have given vent to their stakes in successive elections since 1953. They have elected their representative governments; framed and implemented their constitution and shaped their destiny. That leaves the handful of dissidents including separatists and secessionists outside the pale of democratic process. Nobody banished them to separatism; they did it themselves.

What is troubling separatists and secessionists is that having embraced Pakistan –sponsored violence and gun culture, these instruments failed them at the end of the day. Not others, they themselves ask one another what gains the gun has brought them. Some say that the gun internationalized Kashmir issue. Yes, what then? Entire world laughs when they learn that Kashmir separatists and secessionists draw inspiration from UN and US banned terrorist organizations of Pakistan.

Which Pakistani sympathizers are Kashmiri separatists and secessionists desiring to be their guides and mentors? Not Sindhis, not Baluch, not Pathans, but Punjabis—yes. And who among Punjabis: Landlords, Generals and elite bureaucrats. I think no community in the world can compare Kashmiris in rejoicing at calling foreigners to rule over them.

Two and half decades of insurgency should have convinced separatists that J&K will remain integral part of the Indian Union till eternity; not because of domination, no, because of the historic decision taken by the people to be the rulers of themselves. They know it but to extract more from their Pakistani benefactors they feign to believe they will send back India one day. Who stops them from day dreaming? Indian democracy is happy with their day dreaming.

Assuming ostrich–like posture, separatists and secessionists are willfully overlooking the deep impact of democratic process in the state. We know that Wahhabization of Kashmir is their agenda. That is for the consumption of Pakistan and her radical groups: that is also for Saudi Arabia who provides petro-dollar largesse frugally. We welcome it.

But democratic dispensation has dug its roots in Kashmir polity deep and wide. This has come to it after thousands of years of suppression and oppression. Under the grand sweep of democratic dispensation, all angularities, religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural are transformed into a new mix in which reason and logic reign supreme. Separatists are meeting with Pakistani officials and ISI representatives. Why don’t they meet with and talk to the leadership of dissident groups in Pakistan and why don’t they exchange ideas with them? Their vision would expand and they would help themselves have dispassionate view of things in that country.

It is more than two decades and half that day in and day out separatists have been giving the call for strike, demonstrations, protest rallies that often become violent and resort to stone pelting. What are the gains? The gain is that nearly 80 thousand Kashmir valley students have sought admission in various educational and professional institutions in the country; the gain is that more than 20 thousand girls from the valley have married outside the state, the gain is that thousands of persons from the valley have purchased properties in the rest of the country, as far away as Bangalore, and the gain is that thousands of Kashmiris have headed towards western countries. This is no small a gain of democratic process in Kashmir.

Separatists are a house divided against itself just because there is no common reason that would unite them in letter and in spirit. They have held umpteen meetings with Pakistani officials in Delhi and in Pakistan. What have they gained out of it? Yes, greased their palms at the cost of toiling millions of Kashmiris

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