The suicide attack on CRPF camp in Srinagar has stirred up the peaceful ambience in Jammu-Kashmir, which remained prevalent for the last two years, as well as it drove the message home that terror still looms large in this state. In fact the situation took about-turn in the Valley when the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru triggered political turbulence and narrow-minded politicians started fishing in the troubled waters, leading to disruption of the state assembly session. The ruling party National Conference and the Opposition, Peoples Democratic Front, are in race for settling their political scores in this connection. Both the parties want to reap political benefit by inflaming the emotion of people, while there is a need to convince the people that Afzal deserved hanging as he committed unpardonable crime by attacking Parliament, a symbol of India’s pride and prestige. If the political party of Kashmir per se shies away from this reality, how will the people of the state get the fact in right perspective? With the discordant stand of political parties, Hurriyat Conference, including separatist outfits, are cashing in on the situation. Yasin Malik’s high decibel barbs against India in his sojourn to Pakistan and even sharing the dais with Hafiz Saeed, an accused of Mumbai mayhem, manifest his malafide intention.   

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the legendary Kashmiri leader, had a quest to see Kashmir as an independent state and this proved a sticking point between him and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Their relation turned even bitterer when Sheikh Abdullah raised his demand for special status to Kashmir and started shrugging off merging the state with India.  Abdullah remained in detention for over a decade for this reason. After Sheikh Abdullah, his son Farooq Abdullah’s relations with Centre also went through ups and downs. It appears that Farooq’ son Omar Abdullah and many other Kashmiri leaders are still desirous to see Kashmir as an independent state and perhaps this is the reason why the people of Kashmir are motivated by the decades old demand for so called independence. Clearly, such sentiments are usually spurred by Pakistan. India’s most hostile neighbour has always pursued a wicked policy towards Kashmir since independence. On the pretext of Muslim majority in Kashmir, Pakistan has always sought to occupy the state. After incurring several defeats in the battlefield, Pakistan continued to wage pseudo-war under the garb of terrorism in order to succeed in its nefarious design of grabbing Kashmir. On the other hand, India’s stand regarding Kashmir is the same as it was during Independence. It’s really pathetic when viewed in the light of immense expenditure by the government for winning the trust of the people of the state. There has hardly been any change in the mindset of Kashmiris towards Delhi. Besides this, the Kashmiri Pandits were mercilessly driven away from the Valley that displays the pro-Pakistan mindset of the majority of Kashmiris.

India is also required to realize the fact that all the problems regarding Jammu and Kashmir are rooted in the constitutional provision which guarantees special status to the state. This provision might have been incorporated in the Constitution to appease the people of the state and stop them from clamouring for freedom, but in fact this has proved to be the primary reason for aloofness towards rest parts of the country. The special status spells out a message to the world community that India has a ‘special’ outlook for the state and has granted special status because it is a disputed territory.     

If India agrees to annul special status granted to the state, it is most likely that a vehement protest against this could be triggered for a short span of time, but it is also certain that any possible dissent would die down in course of time. New Delhi’s policies on Jammu and Kashmir have failed to change the mindset of Kashmiris in India’s favour. Actually the benefit of special status granted to the state has been availed only by the local politicians. They fritter away the funds allocated by Centre to lead a lavish way of live but when they address the local masses, it sounds as if the money was sent to them by a foreign nation. Annulling the Article 370 of the Constitution which guarantees special status to the state is in fact the only way to ensure the integration of the state with rest part of the country.   

India needs to change its outlook towards Pakistan because it is the vexed issue of Kashmir which is impeding the bids for building confidence between the two countries. India should at least stop pursuing its policy of blowing hot and cold on Pakistan. It’s fine to promote people to people contact between the two countries but at the same time it is also required for India to review its relation with Pakistan. The relation between the two countries gets derailed whenever any terror strike takes place in India at the behest of Pakistan based handlers or the terrorists from the neighbouring country try to enter into Indian territory. But after some time, both the countries are seen engaged in dialogue process aiming at normalizing their relations. Fluctuating ties between the two countries are not going to yield any significant result. One such example is the Pak National Assembly’s resolution condemning India for hanging Afzal Guru. Likewise, India retorted in the similar vein. Is it enough to teach Pakistan any lesson? Here it is important to note that India did not stick to its tough stand which it had adopted after 26/11 terror strike. Whether it is international pressure or India’s own weak stand, but the fact cannot be denied that Pakistan government did nothing to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 attack to justice. Again in January this year, India toughened its stand against Pakistan after brutal killing of its two soldiers but later External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid offered red carpet welcome to Pak PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf when he had come on a private visit to Ajmer in Rajasthan. India has again displayed its displeasure on recent Srinagar terror strike and Pak National Assembly’s resolution on Afzal Guru. Now the people of the country are fully disappointed with such developments. It will be nice to convene an all party meeting to reframe India’s policy on Kashmir and Pakistan. This policy should represent the opinion of the whole nation rather than a particular party or a government and it should be executed for the long spell.             

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on March 17, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran.)