Some parties deserve pooping
Predictably, the Indian government has decided it will not allow the methodical, cold-blooded slaughter of Kashmiri villagers by jihadis to come in the way of having an exclusive meeting with those who sympathise with them. (Sympathise with the terrorists, that is.) It is a sign of desperation, we are told, that caused the jihadis to undertake such brazen acts. Abandoning talks with the Hurriyat, we are told, will only play into their hands. So let’s just ignore the killings and use the talks to give the Hurriyat, in the words of the Moderate Mirwaiz, “some concrete concessions to keep the momentum and the credibility of the process going”. To accept this line of thinking is to be blinded by a bogus pragmatism.
Regardless of the crocodile’s tears it has been compelled to shed, the Hurriyat’s power base arises from the jihadi groups. It is not merely an apologist, but in reality, the representative of terrorists. Nothing in recent years, ‘peace processes’ notwithstanding, has changed this. On the contrary, the ‘peace process’ has given the Hurriyat a degree of international legitimacy in places such as Washington. Mirwaiz & Co are determined to be seen as sole representatives of the Kashmiri people. Hence their chameleon-like positions on round table talks: they refused to participate in the first one, then announced one of their own, and now dismissed them as a “crowd that only makes noise”.
Postponing the talks in the face of such a flagrant act of terrorism will put the spotlight squarely on the Hurriyat. While it is reasonable to accept that the terrorist attacks were carried out by those opposed to the Hurriyat’s participation in talks, that is a problem for the Hurriyat and its ‘boys’ to sort out between themselves. India should be ready to talk to them when they have sorted out their internal disagreements. And should these disagreements be settled in favour of the segments opposed to talks, then well, the Indian security forces have their task cut out. If the political objective is to strengthen the hands of the pro-negotiation moderates, then postponing the talks is the correct way to go about it.
If, as is likely, Dr Manmohan Singh decides to go ahead with the talks, he will find himself under pressure to deliver some “credible concessions” to the Hurriyat to strengthen their hand. Regardless of intervening mechanics, he will have rewarded the terrorists for the mass slaughter of innocent villagers. The talks must be postponed. If they are held, India must not allow the Hurriyat to walk out with a prize.