In this context let me go back to the question, which I raised in the beginning of this paper: what then actually has lead to the failure of all these attempts towards reconciliation? An honest answer to the question will point to a trust deficit between the two blocks.

When one goes back into the history of the dispute, it becomes obvious that it was a dispute between India and Pakistan in which Kashmiris be given the choice either to accede to India or to Pakistan. However, as the time passed the dispute took a different turn, and a different school of thought came into existence which demanded a free Kashmir. Sovereign Kashmir is more common in the recent Kashmiri imagination than accession to either of the countries. The situation took a different turn after last year’s Amarnath land issue. Most of the Kashmiris came on the streets demanding freedom. Most of the Indian intelligentsia supported this popular demand of Kashmiri people. Arundhati Roy in her article “Land and Freedom” (The Guardian, Friday, August 22, 2008) wrote, “The Indian military occupation of Kashmir makes monsters of us all. It allows Hindu chauvinists to target and victimize Muslims in India by holding them hostage to the freedom struggle being waged by Muslims in Kashmir. India needs azadi from Kashmir just as much as – if not more than – Kashmir needs azadi from India.”

The peace process between India and Pakistan stopped after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which was carried out allegedly by Pakistani nationals. Since then both the countries are trying to start afresh a peace process to resolve all the bilateral issues including Kashmir. Due to growing international pressure to resolve the Kashmir issue, Indian government again invited Hurriyat to discuss the Kashmir issue, in 2009. Home Minister P. Chidambaram on June 11, 2009 during his visit to Srinagar, said “We would like to take small, baby steps one by one and no great leap in Kashmir.” On October 28, 2009 Dr. Manmohan Singh reached out to Kashmiri separatists, offering to resume peace talks to end decades-old insurgency in the Himalayan region[10]. Soon after the PM’s offer of talks, Hurriyat (M) welcomed the step and said they are ready to participate in the dialogue whereas Hurriyat (G) rejected any such proposal. Dr. Singh also offered unconditional talks with Pakistan to resolve Kashmir issue. Ahead of the PM’s visit to Valley, on October 15 2009, P. Chidambaram announced a quiet dialogue with all the political shades of Kashmir. What lacked in this programme was the degree of quietness. New Delhi, backed by the Jammu and Kashmir state government, kept releasing press statements that it is engaging Hurriyat (M) in the quiet diplomacy, which the latter refused.

The past three years have seen a shift in the political scenario of Kashmir. Year 2008 saw agitation against transfer of some hectares of land to the Shri Amarnath Shirine Board, resulting in the death of nearly 60 people. The resistance died after the state government revoked its decision of land transfer and the cycle of deaths was put to a halt. Peace remained elusive for some time. Soon into the summer of 2009, security forces in the South Kashmir district of Shopian saw people on the streets of Kashmir after the alleged rape and murder of two women. The anger and the resistance died after a few months. Unfortunately, the relative peace could not survive even six months, and people were seen on the streets of Srinagar again after the killing of a youth, Tufail Matoo, allegedly at the hands of security forces on June 11, 2010. These protests against human rights violations have resulted in the deaths of 25 people so far. AK 47s and other modern sophisticated weapons are seen nowhere on the streets of Kashmir; instead, the baton has been transferred to youths (as noted by APHC (M) chairman, Molvi Umar Farooq in one of his statements) who come onto the streets of Kashmir with stones in their hands as a mark of protest. Many political analysts see it as ‘intifada’ against the Indian state?

In the pretext of development and regional cooperation, India and Pakistan have once again met at the table, resuming the dialogue between the two nuclear powers that was suspended after the Mumbai attacks. Dr. Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of SAARC summit in Bhutan, and both leaders agreed that relations between the two countries should be normalized and channels of contact should work effectively. Recently, on July 15, 2010, the Foreign Ministers of both countries met in Islamabad. The talks between Krishna and Qureshi ended in a deadlock, with the latter accusing India of selectively focusing on terror and ignoring its vital concerns on issues like Kashmir. India says that it will go in for gradualist, incremental approach revolving around trust-building humanitarian measures, before moving on to enlarge the scope of dialogue. However, the question remaining with us is whether this change of attitude by both the countries will come to the rescue of Kashmiris who have suffered in the last six decades. The concept of independent Kashmir makes Kashmiri people the primary stakeholders in the dispute, which is to be resolved between India and Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan should take into account all the sections of Kashmiri societies, pro-freedom leaders (both moderates and extremists) and pro-Indian leaders, irrespective of their opinions. Dialogue without any of these stakeholders will be a useless exercise.

[1] On 2nd November, 1947, broadcast to the nation over All India Radio, Pandit Nehru, PM of India

[2] Nehru’s reiteration of plebiscite pledge in a telegram to Liaqat Ali Khan, November 03, 1947

[3] Abdullah, S. M. (1986). Atish-e-Chinar. Ali Mohammad and Sons.

[4] A.G. Noorani; Harsh truths about Kashmir, Frontline Volume 20 – Issue 16, August 02 – 15, 2003

[5] President Rajendra Prasad’s letter to Jawaharlal Nehru on July 14, 1953


[7] SWJN; Volume 23; page 346

[8] India’s National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra, in a interview with Margaret Warner, Talking Peace; January 6, 2004

[9] Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of the separatist alliance All Parties Hurriyat Conference, to a press conference at Srinagar, January 2009.