NDA: More proactive on Kashmir than UPA

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In a recent interview with the magazine ‘’India Today’’, Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference (M) made some important observations and statements. He said that the BJP-led NDA government at New Delhi, which was in power between 1999-2004, took some bold steps for the resolution of Kashmir issue. Mirwaiz told the magazine, that the BJP-led NDA did more for Kashmir than Congress-led UPA ever did, adding UPA only saw Kashmir as a security issue. He said UPA had some opportunities to resolve Kashmir but whatever they did was not enough on the contrary If you see the NDA, it took better decisions on Kashmir. He said that the union government under the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made forward movement on the resolution of the Kashmir problem. “If the NDA and the BJP walk on his footsteps, then there is a lot of hope. We saw Vajpayee and the then Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf trying to take bold decisions on Kashmir.” 

One can be dismissive of these statements coming from the Mirwaiz, if they are looked at in isolation. But if these statements are seen in their proper perspective, one would not find many reasons to disagree much with him. It is in public domain that during the NDA rule in Delhi, there definitely was forward movement with regards to the Kashmir issue. Not only were channels of communication opened with the Kashmiri separatist leadership, but also with the other party to this dispute, Pakistan. Though the attack on the Indian Parliament happened during the tenure of the NDA Govt, and there was definitely some military build-up by India on the borders, but things didn’t go out of hand. The dialogue with Pakistan was not stalled and in fact the then Pakistani President Musharraf visited India. The bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad was also started which came as a huge relief for Kashmiris living on both sides of the LOC, who could visit each other and meet their relatives. It is not that Kashmir issue was resolved, but there was definitely some positive movement which could have eventually translated into a meaningful resolution of the issue.

The UPA Govt, which has been in power in Delhi for the last ten years has almost reversed that entire process. Not only has it been reluctant on the foreign policy front in dealing meaningfully with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, but its internal security policy has also put paid to any chances of reconciliation between Kashmir and India. For three consecutive summers, between 2008-2010, Kashmir was witness to some of the bloodiest violence unleashed on innocent civilians by the security forces and the police. The Sate did not show any remorse neither were any perpetrators brought to justice. This attitude of the UPA Govt smacked of arrogance and hubris and has added to the bitterness that common Kashmiris find vis-à-vis Indian Sate.

When asked whether Hurriyat (M) had any problem if the elections are not portrayed as a resolution to Kashmir issue, Mirwaiz stated, “Nobody is against elections or raising local issues. I take up these issues in my sermons too. Hurriyat was not against people taking part in elections, the focus should be on a political solution. This statement also sounds of political pragmatism, given the fact that Kashmiris have come out in sizeable numbers in the last few elections. It would also be in place here to mention that no one in Kashmir equates elections with a resolution of the Kashmir issue. Like any other part of the world, Kashmiris view elections as a process which can help them in sorting their day to day issues. Given the realities on ground, it looks reasonable of the Mirwaiz to have made these statements and make his parties position abundantly clear.

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