Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lone's Well and Dog story and Kashmir dispute


The rot will always stay there till the root will not be addressed, Naseer A Ganai comments on the futility of holding dialogue about Kashmir without any seriousness of purpose.

The former Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Muzaffer Hussain Baig while addressing a gathering at Varmul related a conversation with former US ambassador to India Frank Wisner. Baig said Wisner told him Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone was the wittiest politician of Kashmir. Wisner wanted to know from Lone fate of Kashmir dispute after participation of people in elections in Kashmir.
Late Abdul Gani Lone instead of giving straight answer related him a story of a village. The whole village was using water of the village well. One day a dog fell into the well and villagers rushed to the village Imam and sought his advice what to do. The Imam told them to take out forty buckets of water before using the water of the well. Next day the villagers again rushed to Imam with a complaint that the water of well is stinking. Imam again repeated his previous advice of removing forty buckets before using the water. However, villagers on third day again visited the Imam with complaint of foul smell.
Imam told villagers whether they followed his advice or not. “In its letter and spirit” the villagers retorted back. But when the Imam asked them whether they removed the dog from the well, they replied in negative. Imam told them that first they must fish out the body of a dog from the well then take forty buckets of water out and then use the water.
Late Abdul Gani Lone after relating the story to the Wisner told him that the elections and participation of people in elections is equivalent to removing forty buckets from the well. The Government of India, Lone had said, remove forty buckets after every five years. “But it doesn’t clean the water. Only removing of the dog would clean the water and that dog is Kashmir dispute. We are seeking removal of the dog from the well but GoI is concerned about the removal of forty buckets after every six years.”     
So when recently the Minister of Energy which emanates from sunlight Dr Farooq Abdullah stated New Delhi doesn’t know anything about the dialogue he underestimated New Delhi. “I am 73 and I tell you with authority that New Delhi doesn’t know anything about the dialogue. They go on dialoguing without knowing, what the hell is dialogue all about,” Dr Abdullah said.
Dr Abdullah’s assessment of New Delhi was wrong in many respects. In fact New Delhi knows everything about the dialogue. It knows when to start it and when to start it with whom and when to left it inconclusive and when to start another dialogue without talking about the previous dialogue. It is only bothered about removing the forty buckets from the well and least concerned about fishing out the dog from the well.
That is why the Home Minister P. Chidambaram statement that the Government of India was interested in quiet dialogue and quiet diplomacy to settle Kashmir issue is looked upon with suspicion.
Renewed Government of India’s position is that it is interested to have dialogue with all political parties. Even it says it wouldn’t shy away of having a dialogue with parties having certain political view and which demand Azadi
There is a strong reason behind the suspicion because in past Government of India has sent number of emissaries to Kashmir to have dialogue.  George Fernandes, Rajesh Pilot, Governor Vohra, K.C Pant to name the few. They entered into the dialogue. But the net result is that the GOI is again interested in having a dialogue.
Since 1990 when the armed insurgency backed by mass uprising started Kashmir, the Government of India talked about the dialogue and at the same time it didn’t change its position on Kashmir. P.V Narshima Rao promised sky is the limit, Vajpayee famously said “talks under humanity”. But nothing changed on the ground.  Troop strength increased, AFSPA continues to be in vogue and PSA continues to be unleashed on people. Meanwhile, the Government of India went on to describe elections in Kashmir as verdict of people in its favour.  
Even though in these years there has been change in the approach of people of Kashmir. Kashmiris have adopted non-violent mode of struggle but the response of the State continues to be violent. Last year’s mass uprising is an example. The State crushed the non-violent movement with the weapons of undeclared curfews, arrests under Public Safety Act and the killing of 70 people.    
Nevertheless, the State has been ‘generous enough’ to dole out offer of dialogue this year with all and sundry without any conditions except it would be quiet away from the glare of media. Through these dole outs the State rightly presented its soft form before the internationally community which rightly is concerned about fast changing geo-politics of the region. It has to be seen what has led to change of heart in New Delhi and why it is interested in the “honorable solution acceptable to people” as stated by the Home Minister.
In the past New Delhi has disdainfully rejected demands of pro-India parties which participate in elections.  Take an example of National Conference’s Autonomy Resolution passed by the State Assembly in 2000.The Government of India refuses to look into the resolution. Even for argument’s sake, let us presume Dr Farooq Abdullah didn’t barter it with the New Delhi for Ministerial berth in the NDA government for Omer as alleged by L. K Advani in his book.  Still New Delhi didn’t consider the proposal. These days PDP talks about self-rule. But it says it is within the Indian Constitution. Mehbooba Mufti is too apologetic about the self-rule. She repeatedly says that the self-rule shouldn’t be construed as rebellion against the Government of India. But the Government of India has not considered it worth to respond so far.
The Autonomy resolution has been passed by the State Assembly. The Government of India always says that the Assembly has representative character. The Autonomy resolution was passed with 2/3 majority and it takes Kashmir to the position of 1953. All the pro-India parties become part of the resolution passed by the Assembly. The resolution belongs to the State Assembly. Hence it belongs to the all political parties who participate in the elections and consider the Assembly as “citadel of democracy” in Kashmir. Still the Government of India has so far refused to concede to the mainstream or even refused to accept to discuss their proposals. These things make one ponder what kind unique solution government of India is looking at.
In present times when international community is showing interest in Kashmir and Americans are buying the theory that road to peace in Afghanistan goes through Kashmir, the pro-freedom camp should tread a cautious path. They must see whether the Government of India is ready to make the atmosphere congenial for dialogue. Obviously you can’t hold dialogue in a militarized atmosphere.
Presently if National Conference says it would talk about autonomy on the dialogue table, PDP says it would talk about the self-rule as solution and described self-rule as alternative to freedom. Then some people among the pro-freedom camp who want to go for talks they have no other option but to talk about Azadi as solution because it is the popular sentiment. If they start talking about “talks” without explaining the contours of the talks then they would be “dialoguing” with New Delhi and New Delhi knows how to continue “dialoging” and how to conclude it to start another round without giving anything to people. New Delhi has been removing only forty buckets after every six years over past sixty years. This time they should be told on its face that people are interested in removing of the dog from the well.

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