The new dialogue process to resolve the Kashmir issue will be a quiet one, “as a dialogue can’t take place in full glare of television cameras”.
Addressing an editors’ conference in Srinagar on Wednesday, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said, “It can take place only with quiet diplomacy.”
Stressing that New Delhi is committed to solving the Kashmir problem, he said, “We are working on it and we hope it would be honourable and acceptable to the vast majority of the state.”
Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assertion that a dialogue would be held with every section in the state, Chidambaram said New Delhi would not shy away from seeking the views of even the secessionists.
But Syed Ali Shah Geelani, leader of the hard-line faction of the 26-party All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), said, “Since India is under international pressure, such statements are being formulated. But India is not sincere.”
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, leader of the APHC soft-line faction was hopeful. He said, “I think New Delhi has realised that Kashmir is not an administrative issue. The solution does not lie in governance, but in addressing it politically.”
Mainstream political parties in the state are also optimistic over Chidambaram’s statement. “For the first time, there is an affinity between what Chidambaram said and the political view taking shape in Kashmir,” said Nayeem Akhtar, spokesman for the main opposition party in the state, People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In the Bharatiya Janata Party’s view, however, the Kashmir problem does not exist at all, as the status of Kashmir as “an integral part of India” has already been defined by Parliament.
On special powers act
On the long pending demand of the PDP and the ruling party National Conference, to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Chidambaram assured the editors that amendments to the Act had already been placed before the Cabinet.
Chinese workers’ visa
On issuing visa to skilled Chinese workers, he said, “We know that Chinese workers come here on business visa and start working here. We don’t need unskilled or semi-skilled Chinese workers here, we have many of our own.”