Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has once urged separatists to join the dialogue with the centre, terming it a golden opportunity for them. In a sense, the CMs repeated dialogue favouring statements appear strange. For there isnt an offer on hand for separatists to respond. True, a chorus of noises about the dialogue has emanated from New Delhi in recent past. But all those offers have been vague and in the nature of a wish for dialogue than a serious offer. On his two day visit, the home minister Rajnath Singh didnt make things clear. The point is that the dialogue with the separatists is a very complex affair. More so, when the separatist trio Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik are now together. The response to any as yet hypothetical invite for talks from the Centre will thus have to be jointly decided by them. And none of them will say yes to an offer within the nationalist straitjacket with all its attendant complications and next to no possibility of a helpful outcome.
Also, it will always be a hard sell for Hurriyat to talk directly to New Delhi, with Islamabad out of the loop. One reason for this is that the separatist political objective is not an internal Delhi-Srinagar settlement of the Kashmir issue but a Delhi-Srinagar-Islamabad solution. Second, Islamabad will be deeply sceptical about a Hurriyat-New Delhi track, let alone countenance an internal settlement. So, such a settlement will not be even the worth the piece of paper, it is signed on. Some local and minor political and administrative re-adjustment will hardly do for a solution. On the contrary, Hurriyat runs the risk of becoming mainstream, leaving its space in Valley to be filled in by the new political and militant actors, probably much more hardline than the current crop of separatists.
Not only shall centre have to thus extend a direct offer but also work out the terms of the process. The need, therefore, is for an honest and a meaningful exercise. The immediate priority, in any case, should be to draw separatists into a dialogue which they believe in. A dialogue that creates a sense of incremental progress towards some goal. And for this to happen, the New Delhi will have to first take up for consideration the proposals made by the separatists to get into an engagement. It needs a little boldness, little innovation and a little imagination to respond to their concerns and expectations. Rewards will be fast and quick. Soon, we will have cranked up a promising dialogue process which if sustained could in the long term lead to a solution.
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