February 2006 News

Separatists 'lose' by quitting

22 February 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Sarwar Kashani

Jammu: It's certain now that nobody from the separatist camp is making it to Prime Minister's roundtable conference on Kashmir on Saturday and as far as the political gains and loses are concerned, a 'big' opportunity in breaking some ice is being frittered away for excuses, which though arguable are too smaller than the problem. Unexpected announcement has truly surprised all and sundry, not only because the event was announced without much preparatory work and without taking parties into confidence but also because separatist leaders who have already been talking to New Delhi have shown their thumbs down to the event. While everybody from the separatist camp has one or the reasons in support of their refusal, the common denominating argument from them was that they were not informed in advance. In fact many a mainstream political parties, including National Conference too have expressed their surprise about such a move at a time when they had not expected any such offer coming from New Delhi. Shying away from the event has certainly dampened the spirits and mood otherwise such an event could have generated, nevertheless the conference is all set to take place this Saturday at PM's residence 7 Race Course New Delhi with or without anybody. The Kashmir watchers and political observers see the refusal and non participation of separatists as 'losing by quitting'. 'Saying no to Prime Minister's roundtable conference has no logic bigger than the problem,' an observer feels. 'It's simply losing by quitting,' he adds. In a matter of debate where Kashmiris are held as aggrieved party, the participation of Kashmiri separatists could have provided a chance to exploit a situation wherein they could have put forth their point of view. Hurriyat leaders should have been more than willing to go despite their reservations. They never shy away from having meetings with Pakistan President General Musharraf, who has not only shelved the UN resolutions but also rejected the option of independence! In fact today they are again warming up to meet Musharraf on the sidelines of Pagwash conference which is to be held in Islamabad from coming March 9 to11 and why no to roundtable is incomprehensible. 'Indeed the refusal of separatists in the conference is bound to attract some sort of embarrassment for New Delhi, though it may do more damage politically to the former than to the latter,' says a University professor wishing to be not named. It may seem to separatists that they've scored a point over New Delhi by refusing the offer but in the bigger gambit of international politics, New Delhi too has nothing much to lose in the bargain. 'At least New Delhi can put across to the international community that it (New Delhi) does not shy away from discussing the problem with all those actors who they think matter. And this is something that New Delhi can use in its favour, that too at a time when US President is visiting India,' the professor adds. Is the argument of not participating bigger than the problem? 'No ways!' says a political analyst. 'Refusing to participate on the mere grounds that they were not informed in advance sans logic. They have been talking to New Delhi and have been demanding joint dialogue involving all the actors. There was no harm in participating and spewing the grievances,' he observed. Nasir Mirza, HoD Media Education Research Centre Kashmir University says that proper groundwork should have been done and no loopholes on part of New Delhi should have been left for anybody to escape. 'Such big events are expected to be organized after proper ground work and necessary consultation, if not the consent, from the parties,' Mirza feels. Quipping the solution of the problem, Mirza says, 'Dialogue is THE WAY and people shouldn't shy away from talking,' he added. All said and done, a big opportunity is being wasted and again it is the lack of sincerity on part of all concerned parties which is the main culprit. On their part, if the separatist leadership sincerely wanted resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio, they should have grabbed the opportunity and instead of finding excuses in New Delhi's approach, put their own act together and not attracted blame of running away from the dialogue,' sums up Raoof Ahmed, an associate editor of local English daily.


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