Thursday, 13 October 2011

Interlocutors report traces contours of a possible political solution, Iftikhar Gilani

Interlocutors report traces contours of a possible political solution, Iftikhar Gilani

Interlocutors report traces contours of a possible political solution, Iftikhar Gilani

The recommendations would be put before the all-party delegation that visited Valley in September 2010
New Delhi

The stage is being set for the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resume talks with the Kashmiri separatist leadership. The panel of three interlocutors on Wednesday submitted their report to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The report traces the contours of a possible political settlement of the Kashmir issue. It was an outcome of an interaction with 600 delegations in all 22 districts and three round table meetings involving women activists, scholars and cultural activists from across Jammu and Kashmir.

The views gathered at three mass meetings involving ordinary persons have also been incorporated. While chief interlocutor Dileep Padgoankar believed that the separatists have lost an opportunity to resolve the crisis by refusing to meet the government panel, a senior Home Ministry official said that the doors for dialogue were still open. “The report is not an end. We have to acknowledge the reality. It is an ongoing process,” said the official. However, he said that the report is an important milestone in the journey of the peace process. Refusing to share the contents of the report, both the officials of Home Ministry and the panel members said that the recommendations would be put before the all-party delegation that visited Kashmir in September last year. “The panel was constituted as an outcome of the visit of the all-party delegation. Therefore, they will be presented the report to evolve a widest possible consensus,” the Home Ministry sources said.

They maintained that the government was looking at some radical recommendations that would take into consideration the concerns of the many factions that have stake in the Kashmir issue. Talks between the government and the moderate faction of the separatists that have been stalled since 2005 may just resume. The talks will enable a smoother dialogue with Pakistan. If all goes well, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may visit Islamabad sometime next year before his term ends. Sources here believe that an understanding reached between Singh and then Pakistan President Pervez Musahrraf between 2004 and 2006 was not entirely a dead letter. “We can certainly revive it depending on the political situation in Pakistan,” said a source, associated with back-channel and Track-II diplomacy.

Earlier, while receiving the report, Chidambaram told the panel to remain available to the all-party delegation that will deliberate the report. The 38-member delegation sent to Kashmir last September included BJP leaders Arun Jaitely, Sushma Swaraj, Left parliamentarians Sitaram Yechuri, Gurudas Gupta, Mohan Singh of Samajwadi Party, Nageswar Rao of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Ramvilas Paswan , Hyderabad MP Asadudin Owasi and others.

Padgoankar pleaded political parties not to respond to media speculation on the issue. “I would counsel patience to anyone who wants to comment,” he added. The panel has asked the Home Minister to put the report in the public domain for a debate. “We would like that report be debated across the country particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. The minister told us to carry forward the process and recommendations; he would first like it to be made available to the all-party delegation. He also asked us to be available. We have accepted the offer,” Padgoankar said.

He also added that in order to buttress political settlement, the report also contains recommendations on host of other issues related to the economy, social infrastructure and culture. He hoped that process will be accelerated and all stake holders in Jammu and Kashmir and the nation at large will come together and arrive at a consensus that will bring peace, stability and prosperity to the state.

On the issue of his recommendations on repealing harsh laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Disturbed Areas Act etc., the panel said their interactions with general public, police and para-military forces have been incorporated in the report.

Iftikhar Gilani is Special Correspondent with

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