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Much merit in the fine print

The Kashmir interlocutors' report contains within itself the seeds of a solution. Badri Raina writes.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2012 23:08 IST
Badri Raina
Badri Raina
Hindustan Times

This is apropos the ones written by Hilal Mir (Half-hearted, half-baked, May 4) and Dileep Padgaonkar (Be a part of the solution, June 6). It is my view of what, after all, might be the problem with the 'Kashmir problem':

There are four, at the least, distinct positions among stakeholders on how the problem must be resolved: one, those few, but influential, Kashmiris who still think that the two-nation theory holds, and that Kashmir must thus amalgamate with Pakistan regardless of the objective conditions in that unfortunate country; two, those who believe Kashmiris of the valley have always been an independent 'nation' and deserve to be so recognised and let go of by both erstwhile dominions; three, those who wish to retain the Accession to India but on the 'pre-1953' terms and conditions; and, four, those who wish not only to remain with India but on a more completely and firmly integrated covenant like any other state of the Union.

That said, remarkably, it is nobody's stated position thus far among the contenders that a solution may be found that rests on a sectarian foundation, or any form of division among the above positions and the territories that voice them.

Many who criticise the 'other' do so without quite suggesting a blueprint that may satisfy the two parts of the contradiction outlined above. Clearly, most 'Kashmir hands' play safe as most 'experts' usually do, retaining thereby a perpetual niche in a continually problematised issue — almost with a relish. Lest this should seem a self-righteous thing to say, this writer makes the claim of having repeatedly made explicit what he thinks is the solution both possible and desirable, given the many coordinates to the history of the issue.

Having recently read the report submitted by the three government-appointed interlocutors, I am constrained to say that some of the critiques I have read come sadly either from a vantage that is not given any exclusive weight in the report, or from 'experts' who find this an occasion to rediscover a relevance for themselves without quite appreciating the extraordinary labour, comprehensiveness and, if I may add, intelligence about the problem that informs the report.

It needs to be underlined that any talk that these should have been political heavy weights is frivolous. The fact is no bevy of heavyweight politicians could ever find an argument that might reconcile all the coordinates of the problem. This much has been quite obvious and open for years now.

Without going into details, it is my view that the merit of the report lies in its open-minded recognition that neither a severance from the Union, nor a full-scale integration with it bears any promise of finding a resolution. If that much is conceded, then there will be found to be plenty in the infrastructure of the report that may, in course, lead the contending parties to a negotiation that yields a covenant.

Badri Raina is a retired teacher from the University of Delhi. The views expressed by the author are personal.

First Published: Jun 24, 2012 23:05 IST