Except Vajpayee, all other PMs have simply completed a formality of visiting Kashmir…
Recent visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the pompous company of Congress party supreme commander proved futile. A few days before his visit a trail of violent incidents occurred in comparatively calm environs of Kashmir in which several people lost their lives. Even after the departure of Mr. Singh and his entourage the ghost of violence and killings is looming large on the vale and its desperate people. During his two terms Mr. Singh visited the state several times and every time he made several promises ranging from economic uplifting of the state to good governance and peace in Kashmir. But till date most of his promises and announcements fell apart. Except inaugurations of second phases of Kashmir rail project and laying of foundation stone of some projects the Prime Minister’s visits should simply be categorized as an exercise in futility at the cost of taxpayers’ money and precious human life. Prime Minister of a country has every right and as well it is his official duty and moral obligation to visit and inquire about his people, but at the end of the day such visits should give some respite to people and invoke a fresh and vigorous sense of good governance and, justice and equality within the administrative system.
With present visit of Dr. Manmohan Singh more interestingly in the company of much powerful Sonia Gandhi people of Jammu and Kashmir had many expectations. Particularly, in the context of prevailing political situation and human rights scenario in the state every stake holder was looking forward to bold decisions and radical reforms.
The core issues of AFSPA (Armed forces special powers act), release of detinues and economic bailout that were expected to be addressed as a prelude to respectable and peaceful resolution of long pending vexed Kashmir issue to the satisfaction of all concerned were Conspicuously absent from the agenda and instead the beaten track of triviality—meeting selected groups and individuals was repeated. So, an otherwise much awaited visit full of expectations and hope was over hyped and left to lose its value and impact as a good opportunity to initiate an aura of peace in the state and solace to Kashmiri people in particular.
Except one of the historic visits of Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister almost all the visits of Indian Prime Ministers during last two decades of unrest in Kashmir were either formality of governance or were deliberately derailed by many vested interests. Presence of Mr. Makhan Lal Fotedar a long time member of think tank on Kashmir a few days before the Prime Minister’s Kashmir visit and his seemingly straight but intriguing talk should not be read in isolation. His revelations about interlocutors and real reason of other confidence building measures initiated by the central government in recent past; reminding Kashmiri people of their sealed fate trough Beigh Parthasarthy devised Kashmir accord and many other salvos aimed at Kashmir’s existing status and destiny of its people were obviously precursor to ‘ made irrelevant’ visit of Mr. Manmohan Singh. As many analysts rightly say, that this time round Indian leadership lost a bigger chance to harvest the prevailing peace and goodwill within the valley at the cost of looming parliament and state elections due in 2014. As usual Kashmir has been put on the back-burner at the cost of political considerations that are dearer to the politicians than the Nation, nationality and the fate of common man. In case of Kashmir the political leadership is supposed to rise to the occasion irrespective of political affiliation and come out of the cocooned positioning of power politics for empathetic consideration of plight of Kashmiri people and justified resolution of Kashmir conflict in the best interest of the region and particularly the people of India who want to grow as most respectable and vibrant nation of world order in peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.
As usual, the present visit was marred by the usual political rhetoric and backstage maneuvering commencing at the sad note of death and culminating with unending despair looming large on the future of Kashmir and desperate Kashmiris. It seems the political bankruptcy; fluid political situation and staggering leadership has weakened the political will and determination of political leadership to take initiatives and courageous steps to resolve and settle intricate situations like Kashmir. And such posturing as a whole does not auger well for the entire subcontinent leave alone the country and its people.