Stake-Holders Print
Written by Capt. S.K. Tikoo   
Monday, 22 February 2010 00:00

We seem to be obsessed with coining words and the latest in circulation is ‘stake-holders’. This obsession is limited to our dealings with Pakistan over the ‘un-resolved’ Kashmir problem. The words like ‘porous-borders’,’ dual currency’,’ shared sovereignty’, ‘joint management’ are still fresh in our memory and here we come out with yet another gem. Now, who are the ‘stake holders’ who should be talked to? It seems a ‘stake holder in Kashmir is everybody and anybody who is for secession of the state (or at least the valley of Kashmir) from the union of India. It is immaterial whether such men/women have the peoples’ mandate, but you must engage them in ‘quiet diplomacy’ and ‘secret-talks’. These separatist leaders have yet to prove their popularity amongst the masses they claim to represent, yet GOI must deploy senior bureaucrats even senior political leaders to try and reach an agreement with these ‘stake holders’ after holding ‘talks’ with them in absolute ‘secrecy’. Such ‘secret ‘ parleys immediately become public, when one of the parties spills the beans, as was done by Maulvi Umer Farooq,when he repeatedly debunked such talks from the pulpit of his fort-the historic Jamia-Masjid of downtown Srinagar, in his Friday sermons. Now the ‘secret talks’ are no longer secret and ‘quiet diplomacy’ has received a big setback in the shape of a bullet fired by a terrorist missing the head of one Fazel Qureshi the chief negotiator of APHC(Umer),resulting in life threatening injuries to him. Poor Qureshi had literally a hair breadth escape yet we must do something to keep the Kashmir pot boiling, so we suddenly come out with Justice Saghir Ahmed report of a working group constituted by the Prime minister, which never met in the last two years ever, nor did it discuss the report ever. Poor members of the working group came to know of the report, the way the ordinary mortals did, through media. Even the wise justice (rtd) thought it prudent to submit the report to the J&K chief Minister Omar Abdullah and not to the prime minister.Probabaly, the chairman of the working group had his own reasons or compulsions to do so.



Coming back to stake-holders, it is worthwhile to dig into the results of elections held to the J&K Legislative Assembly over a year ago. The present ruling coalition government in the state the outcome of these very elections.  A genuine question arises: was this governing collation voted to power on any common manifesto which promised to re-open the so called Kashmir question, either in the shape of seeking pre 1953 status or more autonomy closer to self rule. A small exercise to reach a conclusion has revealed some interesting facts. And since the apple of discord is the Valley, the exercise was restricted to the areas excluding the larger Jammu province. I selected some 28 constituencies in the valley from north, south and central Kashmir at random, just to find out the number and percentage of votes polled by  those candidates who were labeled as “MUKHBIRS” “INDIAN AGENTS” and “JANG SANGHIS”.To start with I thought the exercise would end in futility and it would be difficult if not impossible to find anyone sticking his/her neck yet again after having been let down by successive governments, both state and central .But it was a revelation to find that such “die-hard” Indians still exist in the valley and they come out to exercise their mandate defying threats to their and their families’  lives. Most of these candidates had lost one or more members of their families to the terrorist’s gun for their singular fault of being pure Indians. And remember, all of them were recent converts, having crossed over from the other side to this side. And how solid is the faith of a new convert is all too well known. In these 28 constituencies, they polled slightly more than 4% of the total votes polled, aggregating some 49,991 votes. These are the votes polled by all those candidates who fought as independent or as representatives of BJP. The votes polled by some Kashmiri Pandit candidates who contested the polls on regional or national political party sysmbols, have not been included. While an independent candidate of this category polled 24.46 percent of the votes polled in a particular constituency, the wining candidate scraped past by getting 26% of the votes polled.ome other startling revelation were the presence of BJP in the valley, one of its candidates polled 2702 votes in a south Kashmir constituency, and three others in north and central Kashmir reached/nearly reached four figure mark, no mean achievement. Considering that these half a lac of votes have families too and the rough total number of such family members could be anywhere between 200,000 and 250, 000, should they not be considered as “stake-holders”? Or they should once again be betrayed for their fault of giving up the gun and joining the national mainstream.


Some more interesting revelations. Peoples Democratic Party polled less votes than Indian National Congress in the constituencies surveyed i.e. total 50 constituencies (Kashmir province 46 and ladakh 4), while the former polled 13-74% of the votes polled, the latter polled 15.92% of the votes polled. So the self rule slogan stands already rejected by the people of the valley. And now--the autonomy– only around 28% of the voters who actually exercised their right to vote, voted for the National Conference in its citadel (Jammu province as already explained was excluded from the exercise).The performance of the two regional parties advocating self rule and more autonomy respectively, was even more pathetic in Jammu province. The verdict of the electorate both in the valley and in the state is crystal clear--rejection of ' self rule ' and pre-53 position, yet an effort is being made to flog a dead horse.


Solution of the so-called Kashmir question lies in reaching out a negotiated settlement with Pakistan, everything else is meaningless. Think for a while: Was it for ' self rule ' or ' pre-53 status ' that the terrorists picked up the guns against the state? Has Pakistan diluted its stand on Kashmir a wee bit? Continuous & regular reminders of their presence and intentions in the valley are witnessed one day in Sopore where they slay security-forces with ease, & the other day in Srinagar where they repeat the macabre drama with equal ease. And these Fidayeen make no bones about their identity --they belong to Hizab-ul-Mujahideen, Jamait-ul-Mujahideen or LeT ( Lashkare Taiba) --all seeking accession of the state to Pakistan. They also convey that it is they and their masters across the border who are the real ‘stake holders’. All pampering of so-called moderate APHC leadership, by some state and non-state actors is doomed to failure. By making it easier for such fake and treacherous 'leaders ' to travel abroad and address anti-Indian seminars and make venomous speeches overthere,only makes matters worse for the likes of those Kashmiri Muslims who in 1994 revolted against their erstwhile masters, and their evil designs of enslaving Kashmiris and then engaged in a straight fight with them. It was the dawn of a new euphoria, when these young brave hearts liberated the valley from the Taliban type brigands who had virtually taken over the valley. It is unfortunate that successive governments made all efforts & fairly succeeded in infusing new life to these traitors, who are now being seen as the symbols of secessionist forces and yet being treated as good boys, thus attracting and encouraging young man to one again indulge in terrorist activities and roll back today’s Kashmir to that of early 90’s. Hence the revival of fidayeen.


It’s rather surprising that some of brilliant brains--Bureaucrats, sr. army officer, well known and respected media personalities and a host of intelligentsia--who enjoyed attending joint meetings, seminars and workshops with their counterparts from Pakistan in Kabul, Singapore Islamabad or Delhi, plead with prime minister dr. Manmohan Singh to ‘reach out’ to Pakistan. Reach out to whom? Who is in control of Pakistan? do they expect Dr. Manmohan Singh to have a meeting with general Parvez Keyani like Ms Hilary Clinton who had a three hour long meeting with the general and didn’t feel it purpose full to even shake hands with the defence minister of Pakistan. And now the jolly good fellow – Asif Ali Zardari he says, “Pakistan is ready for a one thousand year ideological war with India”. He repeats and describes Kashmir as the “jugular vein” of Pakistan and adds, “Soon the time will come when the world will take importance decision regarding Kashmir” .I leave it to these ladies/gentleman who are part of this back channel diplomacy to ponder over the statement made by Zardari a bit seriously that, “SOON WORLD WILL TAKE IMPORTANT DECISIONS REGARDING KASHMIR”. If we allow the world (by world, does Zardari mean the USA or OIC) to take decisions regarding Kashmir, do we have any right to exist as a sovereign nation?


2010 is going to be the most crucial year and if we really want an enduring peace, we better prepare for war. I think it befitting to end this piece by quoting John F Kennedy, “It is an unfortunate fact that we can only secure peace by preparing for war”.