OTHER OPINION:PM’s new approach on J&K

After the meeting of Jammu and Kashmir’s Opposition parties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, the possibility now opens up that the Centre would inject some political content in its dealings with Kashmir. The Prime Minister has come to a semblance of a constructive approach over the Kashmir protests late in the day — almost too late, some might argue, not without justification — but it is welcome despite all that.

The situation in the Valley has now festered for over 45 days, that is way too long, and no one can expect calm to return at the push of a button. This suggests that an atmosphere of tension could last some more time. But at least now we know that the highest executive authority in the country is ready to pay personal attention to the issues being raised in the Valley. When the troubles erupted on July 8, and for long after that, Mr Modi had appeared impervious to what was going on. The fact that the change in New Delhi’s articulated stance came in discussions with a meeting of Valley-based Opposition parties led by former CM Omar Abdullah, and emerged from the memorandum they had presented to the Centre, would logically suggest that the Modi government is ready to seek the cooperation of all mainline parties in Kashmir, not just chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP, in coalition with which the BJP runs the state government. It should begin a conversation on this basis without losing time.

The PM has started positively with his statement that “those who lost their lives during the recent disturbances are part of us, our nation; whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us…”

Other than the pro-Pakistan separatists — whose natural leader is octogenarian Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a veteran at political warfare, the overwhelming majority of the people in Kashmir, as Mehbooba Mufti observed, desire peace and are likely to be relieved that the calendar of protests being dictated by destructive pro-Pakistan elements is being brought to an end. However, considerable political tact is called for, and hostile and aggressive statements of the kind finance minister Arun Jaitley made from Jammu a day earlier need to be eschewed.

It is important to make a clear distinction between Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. Using all necessary means to thwart Pakistan and its designs is incumbent upon us. To push the same formula against the ordinary people of Kashmir, as many in the Sangh Parivar are wont to do, spells disaster and threatens the unity and integrity of the nation.

Mr Modi seeks dialogue in search of a “lasting solution within the framework of the Constitution”. Only Pakistan’s surrogates would disagree. 
 

The Article First Appeared in THE ASIAN AGE

 

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