T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Vol I Issue X

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

February 2003




Romeet K WATT



Balraj Puri



Sunita Vakil                          

View Point      

Romeet K WATT


On Track     

Romeet K Watt 



Sushil Vakil



Sawraj Singh


State Craft

Romeet K WATT



T R Jawahar


Last Word

Sunita Vakil 
















A b o u t  U s

F e e d b a c k


C o p y r i g h t 

S P O T   L I G H T

Who would be New Delhi's interlocutor? 

Romeet K WATT

It is as good as official. The ‘Kashmir Committee’ set-up by Ram Jethmalani is on the verge of being done away with, after Jethmalani chose to step-in as the defence council for S.A.R Gilani, one of the prime accused in the attack on the Indian Parliament, much against the council of the North Block, which was providing benefaction of sorts to the Committee in the past.


Jethmalani is also believed to have earned himself a ‘bad name’ after he made disparaging remarks on the suspension of the passport of the former chairman of APHC, Mirwaiz Omar by the Home Ministry, shortly before he was supposed to go on a what was described as a ‘private visit’ to foreign shores.


It is common knowledge that it was none other than the Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani himself who had given ‘green signal’ to Jethmalani to set-up a private citizen’s group consisting of eminent Indian intellectuals to seek and break ice with the separatist bandwagon in Kashmir, more than ever, the hard to pin down, All Party Hurriyat Conference [APHC].


That was, however, prior to the electioneering process in Kashmir, when it was in general felt that the chipping in of APHC, if not essential, was desirable for the overall health of the democratic process in Kashmir.


Nevertheless, Kashmir Committee failed in its primary objective to rope in APHC, something, which did not go well with New Delhi. Furthermore, in the post-election scenario, the position of New Delhi on Kashmir has enhanced radically, and such  any future negotiations with APHC and company would take place largely on the ‘terms and conditions’ laid down by the Home Ministry.


APHC, if the indications are to be believed, is more likely to tone down on its known rhetoric’s, and get on with the task of negotiation, which they feel is the only way out to reinforce its position within its own constituency in Kashmir, something, if the trends that are emerging, are any signals, is dwindling with each passing day.


The recent reshuffle of Union Cabinet undertaken by the BJP has a few pointers for the expected policy measures that are likely to be adopted by New Delhi vis-à-vis its Kashmir policy. The position of L K Advani has been considerably consolidated, and from now on, its is all along going to be Advani’s ‘hardliner’ policy.


A tough antagonistic hard-line approach towards the separatist bandwagon is also in line with the desired position of RSS (and other Sangh Parivar outfits), and many believe is also a ‘crucial ingredient’ for the party’s rejuvenated ‘nationalism’ mantra in the forthcoming elections to nine states, including Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which are due soon.


Not to be left behind, MoS for Home, I D Swami, wrote an article for a leading national daily, sometime back, launching a scathing attack on Mirwaiz Omar, and his brand of separatist politics setting the likely trends that are to emerge from New Delhi. And, the likes of such hard-hitting articles -- which had more to do with Omar’s antagonistic position towards Indian in an interview to BBC sometime back, something that really pissed the Home Ministry -- are going to continue.


Nevertheless, it is also generally felt that New Delhi has to undertake talks not only with the separatist leadership but also with the elected representatives of the state legislative assembly. The ‘present timing’ for the proposed talks has two primary reasons: First, it is better to engage separatists now, given that their position is considerably weakened, not only in their own constituency in Kashmir but also in the eyes of various influential think-tanks, who have a lot of say in policy decisions of various western countries.


Second, and most important reason stems from the fact that APHC has in principle agreed to hold negotiations, without involving Islamabad, at least at this stage. This is line with the principled stand of New Delhi, which calls for talks with APHC and company separated from any consultations with Islamabad on all outstanding issues including Kashmir.


Furthermore, PDP-led government in the state is also insisting that New Delhi should, as soon as possible, commence negotiations not only with the members of the legislature but also with the representatives, who symbolize the ‘other section of the public opinion’ (read APHC).


PDP has wisely chosen not to talk about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the dreadlocks of the larger Kashmir issue, and has instead concentrated on the issues of good governance, and more importantly economic revival of the trouble torn state.


Except that there has been a mounting pressure from within its own constituency in Kashmir, and more importantly, from some of the separatist groups, who has provided them with clandestine support during the October 2002 elections, to take the onus of responsibility in facilitating talks with New Delhi.


As a matter of fact, there are hectic behind the scene parleys going on at present with the intermediaries holding informal consultations with the separatist bandwagon, including APHC to discuss the ‘modalities and broader framework’ of the proposed talks. New Delhi is also believed to be playing it ‘extra safe’ this time around given that its talks with the Naga rebels, despite flexibility demonstrated by both sides, remained inconclusive.


For the position of New Delhi’s ‘chief interlocutor’ for the proposed talks, three names are doing rounds -- Wajahat Habibullah, who had successfully mediated the Hazratbal seize by militants in 90’s; A.S. Daulat, senior officer and former head of RAW, is the officer on special duty for Kashmir in the PMO; and K C Pant, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and a former mediator on Kashmir.


Amarjeet Singh Daulat, who has all along been in touch with the separatist leadership, including that of APHC appeared to be a front runner for the job, given his vast experience as the head of RAW, but Mufti Sayeed, it appears is not too comfortable these days with Daulat, which has made North Block, and the PMO to explore other candidates.


It is pertinent to recall that till not long ago Mufti Sayeed and Daulat shared an excellent rapport, however the recent exclusion of a close confident of Daulat, B K Vaishnavi (a PDP leader from the Kashmiri Pundit community) from the recently expanded Council of Ministers in J&K has led to an antagonistic feeling between the two, with Daulat, explicitly making known to Sayeed that he is not at all happy.


Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, it is believed is in favour of K C Pant as the interlocutor for holding talks with the representatives as well as the separatists. It may be recalled that K C Pant’s first mission on Kashmir did not achieve much success, with APHC, then adopting an antagonistic approach, refusing to talk with him, without the participation of Islamabad. What his Mission Kashmir (part I) did achieve was a vertical split in Hizbul Mujahideen, but that was largely attributed to Daulat and company.


But, it is more than likely that Pant (who appears to be the front runner) would be able to break ice, this time, with the separatists more than eager to occupy positions across the negotiating table. So to say that the talks are inevitable would be to state the obvious. However, to expect that the process would be able to throw up clear-cut solutions to the complex Kashmir issue, in the very near future, would not be pragmatic.


The negotiation process, as and when, it is underway is going to be a prolonged one, with the two sides sticking to their guns (read public posturing) to begin with. But, yes it would be a beginning in the right direction.


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