Will Track II 2016 work in Kashmir?

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Track II diplomacy is apparently on the anvil in Kashmir. A team headed by former Minister, Yashwant Sinha has been convened to form the thrust of the Track II approach. The team will take assessment of the present situation in the Valley and to present a report before Delhi.It is also assigned to see and try ways for initiation of fresh rapprochement and re-conciliation process. It may be stated here that Track II Diplomacy usually employs non-governmental, informal and unofficial contacts between private citizens or groups of individuals (or non state actors).

While it is contrasted with the usual, run of the mill diplomacy, -the kind that occurs inside official government channel-it not a substitute for this diplomacy.  Track II Diplomacy is an alternative conflict resolution approach that usually incorporates public opinion and other ideas to arrive at a conflict resolution paradigm.

The backdrop to the Track II 2016 in Kashmir is the protest movement that engulfed Kashmir after the killing of Burhan Wani. The protests have stretched till now (a period of more than three and a half months). It may be interjected here that an attempt was made by representatives of the Centre to meet the separatists during the heyday of protests but the separatists refused to meet these reps led by Home Minister, Rajnath Singh. Nothing came out of this attempt.

Track II 2016 might then be an attempt to follow up using non traditional means to break the ice and the impasse that has descended upon Kashmir. The question is : will this Track II attempt succeed? While nothing can be said or stated with certainty, but it does not appear that this attempt will succeed. The context to this Track II is the fatigue that has set in the protests but the continued prolongation of these protests.

The saving grace here might be that if Track II gives an honorable exit to the separatists, then the impasse between the state and the separatists might lend itself to some resolution. While this may or may not lead to “normalcy” in Kashmir, but the fact that will remain is that Kashmir- despite the assumed or hypothetical patina of normalcy- will remain unsettled. This is because the Track II 2016 might be aimed at resolving the immediate imbroglio than the causes and effects of the conflict in and over Kashmir. In this sense then, while there might or might not be a return of “normalcy” in Kashmir, it may not, in the long duree scheme of things, mean much.

Having said this, the real success of Track II will be when Track II cedes to Track I ( or normal diplomacy). This could happen when and if Track II efforts will lay the ground for more substantive and comprehensive diplomacy to resolve the conflict in and over Kashmir with all key and credible stakeholders on board. This, undoubtedly, cant be done overnight or spur of the moment. It would take detailed and assiduous ground work, determination, dedication and sincerity. This is not to question the sincerity and integrity of Track II 2016 team but merely to lay and spell out the challenges. Will Track II 2016 be upto the task? Will their efforts yield the desired outcomes? Time will tell.

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