In an unlikely and frank admission of the state of affairs in Kashmir, Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Sunday said that neither the Army nor the militants will achieve their goals through gun. He said the two have to together find a way to peace. He also called for the revival of Kashmiriyat. We have to get our act together, sit down together, work together and make sure that we all get united and bring about peace, Army chief said.
On the other hand, in a serendipitous coincidence, Gen Rawats Pakistani counterpart General Qamar Javed Bajwa similarly backed a comprehensive and meaningful dialogue as the only route to peaceful resolution of Pak-India disputes. Bajwa was speaking at the passing-out parade of cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul.
The statements have been welcomed by the separatist groups and the state government alike. Hurriyat G chairman Syed Ali Geelani has termed it a moral victory. And the senior minister and J&K Government spokesman Naeem Akhtar has termed it as something the people of J&K, entangled in blood-spattered violence, have been longing for years.
Certainly, the statements by the two army chiefs betray a rare of acknowledgement of the ground reality in Kashmir and the South Asia and the need for an alternative approach to addressing the deteriorating situation. However, this is not the first time such statements have been made by those at the helm in the two countries. In fact, in past, even some promising political processes have been initiated to resolve the festering issue through dialogue. But in the end the structural factors underpinning the conflict between the two countries have undone the effort. For example, the former Pakistani president Pervez Musharrafs four point proposals. These proposals unveiled in 2006 set out a four step incremental process for Kashmir resolution. The steps included identification of the regions in Kashmir for solution, demilitarization, self governance and a joint management or a consultative mechanism between India and Pakistan on the state.
But the process ended up nowhere, and was abandoned after Musharrafs sudden exit from the scene following lawyers agitation in the country. The attack on Mumbai sealed the chances of a recourse to the proposals. Ever since the two countries have only drifted farther apart from each other. The efforts to resume the dialogue have come a cropper. The two countries have ended up going back to mutual recriminations and sometimes an extended tense stand-off. The situation now has come to a pass where the chances of a renewed engagement look bleak in the near term. More so, with both the countries looking forward to their national elections in near future.
But the statements like those of General Rawat and his Pakistani counterpart do make a redeeming difference. It shows a realization at the top that the situation in Kashmir cant be allowed to go on regardless. One would wish that this recognition of the gravity of the situation rubs off on the political executives of the two countries too.
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