Talking to the Hurriyat

The Hurriyat said yes to talks with L K Advani. This was a smart move, and the best they could ever get. The Indian government should have no qualms in talking to anyone in the country – especially if it would mean a stop to violence. That the Hurriyat has proposed and the Indian government agreed that the talks be unconditional is no big matter. The Indian government is constrained to act according to the constitution, but talk it may to anyone in any circumstances.

I believe a resolution of the Kashmir dispute is well possible to the satisfaction of the Kashmiris and the rest of India. The problem always has been interference by Pakistan. The assassination of the moderates like Lone, the splitting of Hurriyat, the splitting of the Hizbul Mujahideen etc all took place when the Kashmiris were on the verge of rapprochement.

Therefore, ensuring Pakistan’s non-interference in the Kashmiri peace process is critical to its success. If the talks do begin, India needs to be on its guard to prevent Pakistan from throwing its spanner in the works.

Update:

  • Pakistan begins its machinations and officially backs Geelani as the official Hurriyat leader.

  • The Hindu editorial says:

    The biggest problem, of course, will be off the dialogue table. Not being a principal in the conflict, the moderate APHC faction that New Delhi is engaging has no influence over the armed groups. Even some centrist groups like the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chose not to participate in Thursday’s meeting. The Islamists led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani do have influence over the armed groups but will not use it since they have not been invited to feast at the peace table. Without a de-escalation of violence, the Union Government will find it very hard to sell even the smallest concession politically. Pessimists on Jammu and Kashmir might turn out to be right with depressing regularity, but it serves the interests of India and all its people, including the people of Jammu and Kashmir, to ensure that a positive approach is adopted, that nothing is allowed to trip up talks with the Hurriyat — and that the Kadam Taal is broken at least one step at a time.