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Do Kashmir separatists seek to revive dialogue with new Indian government?

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 10, 2009

Do Kashmir separatists seek to revive dialogue with new Indian government?

Sheikh Mushtaq

After India’s ruling Congress party won a decisive victory, Kashmir’s main separatist alliance urged New Delhi to resolve the decades-old dispute over the Himalayan region.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, said India has a strong government after a long gap and it is time for a solution to the Kashmir issue.

Are Kashmir separatists seeking to revive a stalled dialogue?

Talks between New Delhi and moderate separatists broke down in 2007 after three years, and the failure, which separatists say further alienated the people of the region from India, was partly attributed to the country’s “weak” government.

In the biggest anti-India rally this year, Hurriyat chairman Farooq said India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had made a promise to the people of Kashmir, and it was time the new Congress-led government fulfilled it.

But Farooq is battling opposition at home from more radical leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and militant groups who oppose talks with India without the participation of Pakistan.

The peace process between India and Pakistan, who both claim Kashmir and have fought two of their three wars over it, has advanced little as the Pakistan government is caught up in its own domestic crises.

Although violence in Kashmir has declined to its lowest level since the separatist revolt began in 1989, peace remains a distant dream and little seems to be hunky-dory for New Delhi in Kashmir.

Almost daily street protests are giving new life to a separatist movement and pro-India politicians in Kashmir are realising that.

National Conference, Kashmir’s ruling party, seems serious about resolving the Kashmir dispute.

Party chief Farooq Abdullah has said Hurriyat should get ready for talks.

“The process will be started soon after the formation of new government at centre,” he said.

The National Conference says it will try its best to take forward the dialogue process, but many strife-weary residents are cynical.

A history of suspicion and mistrust between New Delhi and Srinagar still poses a serious risk to any future peace efforts in the region.

Can the new Indian government overcome it and initiate a dialogue with separatists?


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