There’s once again talk of a dialogue with Hurriyat. On Friday, Governor Satya Pal Malik surprised everyone by claiming at a public function that Hurriyat was ready for talks. He boasted that the same Hurriyat which had slammed its doors on Ram Vilas Paswan was now ready to join dialogue. Governor called it an “encouraging sign”. And which it certainly is. Kashmir is suddenly rife with the anticipation of the talks between New Delhi and Hurriyat.
The Governor, however, almost implied as if Hurriyat has unilaterally shown willingness for talks and that the Government hadn’t extended any offer. And which is true. There has been no formal offer of talks to Hurriyat from the government. But there’s no telling about a back channel contact between the Government and Hurriyat – albeit, it does appear that the talk about the talks is the result of such a contact.
Hurriyat, however, has already cleared the air over the issue. In a statement Hurriyat(M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has made constructive noises. He has said if centre were to offer talks, hurriyat will respond positively.
However both the Governer and Mirwaiz haven’t revealed much beyond their respective statements. So, there’s much more to be known about the development for people to make their own opinion.
Hurriyat has theoretically never been against talks. It wants a a sincere, meaningful, a result-oriented dialogue. But it has been always complicated. Hurriyat wants an unconditional dialogue that is geared to resolve Kashmir in its internal and external dimensions. The grouping thus also wants Pakistan on board. But none of these conditions are acceptable to New Delhi, more so, a government led by the BJP.
Hurriyat also has a longstanding narrative about the pointlessness of talking to the centre in addition to a profound sense of grievance. For them, the basic issue about the dialogue with New Delhi is also what the latter is ready to concede in terms of a political settlement. They reckon that the BJP government in New Delhi does not possess kind of the open-mindedness such an engagement requires.
Now that the Governor has welcomed Hurriyat readiness, there are little signs of an outreach from New Delhi. While Governor and Mirwaiz were talking positively about a fresh shot at engagement, the state BJP president Ravinder Raina struck a discordant note. He called Hurriyat leaders “paid agents of Pakistan” and as such they couldn’t be trusted.
People in Kashmir would certainly want the dialogue to start but for it to come through centre will have to readjust its Kashmir policy. To start with, however, it has make a formal offer of dialogue to Hurriyat.