Peace Process After J&K Elections

The recently concluded elections have assumed lot of significance in as far as conflict resolution, peace and larger issues of governance are concerned. While as some would argue that Kashmiris have opposed Hurriyat way of struggling for Azadi, others believe that the people in the state have learned over a period of time that the problem in Kashmir has both internal and the external dimension. By participating in elections the voters have made the choice only in the internal domain involving the issues of development and governance. True that the peace process particularly on the Delhi Islamabad track has helped in building up capacity and confidence of average Kashmiri to attribute on issues crucial to both development and peace. In the above context one is prompted to draw certain insights from the elections in the state. First it was by any electoral yardstick a contested election. The number of candidates in the fray was 1354, of whom 67 were women. Elections became possible only as the Chief Election Commissioner stated that element of fear was very low. The police chief of the state stated that 800 militants are still active in the state and happily the electoral process did not see any rupture. All said and done it would be a great disservice to the peace process if hawks start interpreting the elections as end to separatist politics. Second the benefits of this election can only be useful if these factor in the process of deepening of the peace process between India and Pakistan.  Elections have in a way straightened certain sharp curves in the Kashmir conundrum. It should be possible now for India-Pakistan leadership to take risks by announcing bold policy decisions. It was really satisfactory to know from former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri that a lot of ground had been covered to resolve issues basic to the Kashmir conflict. Third it should be greatly appreciated by peace activists and opinion makers if India  and Pakistan develop confidence to resolve issues without making united states as the court of appeal. For this to happen greater responsibility lies on India with the great power ambition. The noted South Asian expert Stephen Cohen has lately advised India to liberate itself from both Kashmir and Pakistan. The  elite in India holding important positions in security and strategic establishments will have to narrow down the distance between great power ambition and small power mentality. The Roman adage, “Whatever touches us all should be decided by all” has all time relevance.

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