“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Zahid brings up scenarios that intrigue Kashmiris

(Mr. Zahid G. Mohammad, 60, was born and raised in Srinagar. He earned his Master’s degree in English literature from the Kashmir University and has completed a course in Mass Communication from Indian Institute of Mass Communication. He is a writer and a journalist who has written for many newspapers, including the Statesman, the Sunday, and the Kashmir Times. He currently works for the Greater Kashmir.)

Waiting For 2010

It tells a story. The moment I sit at my desk in the morning the bookcase in my carrel tells me a story – the story of sixty three years of pain and agony. The spines of the books on the shelves read: the Wounded Valley, Kashmir in Chains, the Wounded Paradise, the Verdant Valley in Flames, the Prison Stories, Wailing Freedom, the Cindering Chinars, the Freedom Search, Birth of Tragedy, Kashmir the Disputed Legacy, the Trauma of Kashmir, Incomplete Partition, Danger in Kashmir, Kashmir Roots of Conflict, My Kashmir Conflict and the Prospects of Enduring Peace, Kashmir the Untold Story, Echoes of Freedom, Curfewed Night and many other heart rendering titles of Urdu publications. On glancing through the books on the racks in my library it often haunts my mind if the spines would ever read: The Bruised Valley Healed, the Valley Blooms Again, the Trauma Ends and Kashmir Resolved.

The wicker basket in a corner of my carrel that I use for putting old newspapers sprang a hope this Sunday morning when I picked up couple of old newspapers dated October 14, 2009, October 15, 2009, October 21, 2009 and October 22, 2009 and relooked at the lead stories in them. The lead stories read different than one is familiar with. They read: ‘Resolve Kashmir: Omar Tells Delhi,’ ‘You Cannot Divorce JK from its Politics’; ‘Kashmir on Table Quiet Dialogue, Unique Solution: Chidambaram,’ ‘Mum on Atoot Ang’; ‘From media hub, Geelani seeks troops withdrawal’ and ‘Unique Solution to K-issue Talks to be result oriented: Omar, Admits There Were mistakes in the Past.’

These banner headlines and headlines when read between the lines not only indicate change of mood in New Delhi but also provide many a leads for looking at the political developments that in all likelihood are going to dominate 2010. There are many significant points in the statements made by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah during past week and Home Minister, P. Chidambaram during his recent visit to Srinagar. Looking at the statements made by Omar Abdullah in perspective of the statements made by Farooq Abdullah as Chief Minister (1996-2002), the statements of the present Chief Minister have lot of reconciliatory tone in them. Farooq Abdullah, notwithstanding being recognized as suave and soft-spoken when he joined politics spoke in terrifyingly belligerent language. He often talked of waging a war against Pakistan and bombarding town and villages of the state on the other side of the line dividing the state. He talked of bulldozing those who demanded freedom. He often repeated at high pitch that the “accession of the state to India was irrevocable” and if there was a dispute it was about the AJK. In the middle of his tenure as Chief Minister in tune with the thinking of a US think tank and mood in New Delhi he saw resolution of Kashmir in making the artificial line drawn across the state (LOC) as a temporary measure to ensure ceasefire between India and Pakistan army as an international border. He at that time failed to understand the perpetuating cause for the problem could not become resolution of the problem.

It is historical reality that the Chief Ministers of the state lost their political idioms and phraseology after 1953 and ever since that year they have been speaking in the language of New Delhi. The Chief Ministers who dared to speak in their own political idioms were led to the exit door. It has not only been Farooq Abdullah who during his incumbency as Chief Minister of the state spoke Delhi’s language so has been true of all other Chief Ministers who succeeded him after 2002. The Kashmir doctrine of New Delhi underwent a change after it initiated a composite dialogue with Pakistan and held intense talks on track two on General Musharraf’s four point formula. The formula spoke of ‘demilitarization’, porous border, self- rule and joint management. This formula when seen in broader perspective was akin to the formula worked out by New Delhi’s think tank, Centre for Policy Research in early nineties when most of the government institution in the state had crumbled (Sea India- Pakistan and Kashmir by Pran Chopra published in 1993). The PDP Chief Minister while talking of ‘self-rule’, porous LoC, “demilitarization” which to him did not mean demilitarization as mentioned in the UN resolution but redeployment or ‘garrisoning of army’ was reflecting the then thinking in New Delhi.

The statements of Omar Abdullah, I have quoted above can also not be looked in isolation of thinking in New Delhi about Kashmir. In the context of the Chief Minister’s statement it become important to understand if New Delhi’s thinking has changed and if it is really is serious about ending of political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir.

The statement made by Home Minister during his visit as very rightly commented by this newspaper and as quoted by prominent Pakistan newspaper the daily times was different than the routine one. “He did not complain of abysmal law and order situation in the state nor did he talk of growing threats from across the border. There were no thunderous threats in his speeches for the dissenting political voices in the state instead they cascaded with rapprochements and reconciliations. He not only talked of holding dialogue with all shades of political opinion including “separatists” leadership but he was highly positive in admitting that Jammu and Kashmir had a unique geographical location and unique history. And there was need for a finding an honorable solution of the problem acceptable to vast majority of people. Home Minister was right in stating that any solution that fails to recognize the uniqueness of the problem will not work.”

The Home Minister’s talking of finding an indigenous solution to the problem speaks about New Delhi’s response to the models about the resolution of Kashmir problem that are being talked about at the international level by many think tanks. There has been lot of debate going for past couple of years for finding out a solution of the problem outside the primary model contained in the United Nations resolutions that allowing people to exercise their choice through ballot under aegis of the United Nations. The secondary models that are being debated in these forums include: “ 1. Aland Island Model 2. Trieste Model 3. Andorra Model 4. Northern Ireland Model 5. Faith-Based Reconciliation Model 6. South Tyrol Model 7. Sudan Model 8. Somaliland Model 9. Nepalese Model 10. Conflict Transformation.

True, none of these models caught imagination of Kashmir leaders. These were discussed in some media circles and forums in Srinagar but mostly they were talked about in Kashmir conference organized by Kashmir Diaspora Centers in Washington, London and Brussels. These models also were discussed by India and Pakistan think tanks. “In 2007 these models were discussed in an important conference on Kashmir by the Institute of Strategic Studies and Kashmir Institute of International Relations. The conference was attended by experts from India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. In this conference three models were recommended as basis for the resolution of Kashmir which included 1. The Northern Ireland Model 2. the Faith-Based Reconciliation Model 3. The Conflict Transformation Model. Out of these models the most discussed and debated model has been the Northern Ireland Model. But none of these models found any serious takers in India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. The only formula that was debated, discussed and dismissed in Jammu and Kashmir was the Four Point Formula. The Home Minister during his press conference at Srinagar broadly hinted at evolving a solution outside the already available models on conflict resolutions. He also hinted at evolving a consensus model that would be acceptable to the vast majority of people of the state.

True, he offered dialogue to all political parties including those demanding right to self-determination as envisaged in the UN resolution but at the same time spoke of quiet diplomacy and quite dialogue till contours of a solution of the problem emerge. The quiet diplomacy he talked of suggest of behind the scene talks rather than a direct dialogue. It seems that the year 2010 compared to 2009 would be politically hectic and more vibrant. The Kashmir leadership more particularly the dissenting leaders shall have to tread cautiously with sagacity and pragmatism rather than rushing hastily for getting a berth in first row or remaining soaked in emotionalism.

The Hurriyat Conference (M) more or less failed to analyze the niceties and nuances of the statement of the Home Minister and hurriedly announced its decision of entering into a dialogue with New Delhi without even getting an offer. The Home Minister’s statement when read in perspective of the failure of all previous initiatives in the state indicates that New Delhi this time does not want to hurry through the dialogue process under the arc of media gaze but work out a formula that would not fail on the touch stone of durability but lead to some logical conclusions.

Holding of dialogue on track two for evolving a consensus formula for finding a resolution of the problem should not be a taboo for any of the organization whether bracketed as hardcore or moderate but it should be taken as a welcome sign.