South Block lacks a perspective: H.K. Dua
Q: What in your opinion could be a solution to the Kashmir issue?
HKD: I do not think I have much to say as to what will help in solving the problem, but speaking from commonsense there are only three options.
One is ruled out, that is Azadi (independence) for Kashmir. One does not have to elaborate on that. Second, that is abolishing Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. That again is totally irrelevant in the present situation. In any case Article 370 no more exists except on the statute book, on the ground it does not exist.
Any discussion on Article 370, as such, is as irrelevant as abolition of Article 370. This is as irrelevant as Azadi for Kashmir. However, the practical solution does not lie in the abrogation of article 370, but much more autonomy will have to be given to the people of Kashmir.
How much more has to be given, when it has to be given, that remains to be sorted out by the policy makers and those who take decisions. Bhim Singh says, it should be what it was during 1947. Quite likely, it could be more, it could be less. All that needs to be explored later on. How do you explore that? I think there is no solution but to talk to the people.
Q: Who is drafting our Kashmir policy?
HKD: Frankly speaking, I do not know. There should be a mechanism to solve the problem of Kashmir. And mechanism can be the product of desire to formulate a policy. Unfortunately, this desire to formulate a policy and to find a solution really is present more in India International Centre than in South Block or North Block.
Q: Do you think deploying the Army and para-military forces in the state can help solve the Kashmir issue?
HKD: I do not think that the Army now really, despite all these years of sniffing around, can be possibly a solution. Army of course, will fight terrorism, insurgency and secessionism. But, it is not the solution.
Q: Are Kashmiris willing to talk to Government of India?
HKD: I do not believe that people of Kashmir are not ready to talk to people from Delhi. There could be some people or some militant leaders who do not want to talk. But there could also be people who would want to talk. There must be awareness and courage to go to the people and discuss more autonomy to Kashmir. This is one part.
Q: Do you advocate talks with Pakistan to solve the issue?
HKD: I think talks will have to be held with Pakistan sooner or later. I do not think merely talking to people of Kashmir will be a solution. So, it has to be a two-pronged strategy, one with Pakistan and other with the people of Kashmir.
Q: What should be the priority, talking to Pakistan or Kashmiris?
HKD: I think we must talk to people of Kashmir and it has to be a simultaneous approach. How do we bring Pakistan to a path of reason rather than the path they are following to encourage insurgency, seccesionism, terrorism in Kashmir? I think that is the task of policy and diplomacy.
It is a challenge. But, it would be safer to put up the challenge and work for it. We will have to talk to the people of Kashmir as well as to Pakistan.