Start Pre-Talk Process First

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Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s impending Srinagar visit has triggered expectations everywhere. Indications emanating from the ‘moderate’ Hurriyat suggest Dr Singh’s visit will mark the resumption of the stalled talks. Since Home Minister’s June visit, some groundwork has been done on this front. Mirwaiz Umar’s New York visit during which he talked to Pakistan president seems to be part of that process. Unionists, especially the ruling coalition is expecting the prime minister to announce certain measures that will increase developmental activities and help the state overcome its deficit in infrastructure. Both the sides are genuine in their expectations.
But what is paramount is to permit J&K, especially the belts that took the brunt of the strife, to see a bit of normalcy. The sprawling garrisons in comparatively improved belts can shrink and shift now. Militancy may not be out but it is definitely down. Without lowering the guard at LoC, threat of increased infiltrations could better be blunted by fast forwarding the peace process with Islamabad.  There are scores of issues that need no negotiations. The government is committed to the implementation of the recommendations that four of the five working groups have made to the J&K Roundtable Conference. Evolved on basis of the wisdom and suggestions of various unionists groups, the implementation of these measures can mark the beginning as these envisage some of the basic concerns that various separatists have been airing.
Withdrawal of the special laws and tackling situation under the routine laws – which by no means are soft, reducing presence of the security forces, upholding civil liberties and addressing certain chronic cases of human rights abuse, especially the disappearance of hundreds of men in custody – all these are part of these recommendations.  These measures can improve the situation substantially. This can be followed up by starting negotiations with diverse groups. By then, the report of the fifth working group that tackles the most vital part of the task – the relationship between the centre and the state, will be ready. The ruling National Conference’s autonomy report is already public, so is the Peoples Democratic Party’s self rule. Even Sajjad’s Lone – the last separatist migrant to unionist camp, had his ‘achievable nationhood’ available on internet. All these ‘prescriptions’ will not only make the process interesting but purposeful too. Otherwise, taking a leaf out of any working group report and giving credit to any separatist group for its implementation will not only discredit them but also the process, something that has been happening in Kashmir every time.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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