While former union minister Yashwant Sinha-led panel to Kashir has asserted that theirs was an independent initiative to push for dialogue on Kashmir, it remains to be seen how far the delegation would succeed in its efforts given New Delhi’s reluctance to acknowledge the political problem of Kashmir



                       After a long phase of curfews, restrictions and killing, a panel from New Delhi, seen as part of Track-II initiative by government of India to re-start dialogue with all shades of opinions in the Valley, has embarked on “mission Kashmir”. Led by former union minister Yashwant Sinha with members including Ex-vice air marshal Kapil Kak, former bureaucrat Wajahat Habeebullah, journalist Bharat Bhushan and head of an NGO, Sushuba Bharway, the delegation, during its two visits to Kashmir, held interactions with separatists, opposition parties, civil societies, traders and other sections of the society. While Sinha, who was a key figure in BJP during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s era, has repeatedly claimed that the delegation was not an initiative by Indian government, the argument has been hardly bought in the Valley. Prior to this delegation, when the parliamentary panel under the leadership of union home minister Rajnath Singh came to Kashmir, the separatists slammed the doors at them, who maintained that New Delhi turns towards Kashmir only when the region witnesses unrest and forgets to take initiative when situation returns to normalcy in the politically volatile region. One of the main causes behind the failure of the dialogues in Kashmir has been the rigidness of the government of India to accept the political problem of Kashmir, limit the dialogue process at a lower level and its reluctance to take the steps for carrying everybody on board to resolve the issue once for all. This time the importance of the Sinha led delegation is that they have underscored the need for carrying forward the uninterruptable dialogue process to find solution to the Kashmir issue, by making Musharaf-Vajpayee dialogue, which was initiated 13 years back, as its base. It needs to be recalled that all the members of Sinha-led delegation were the main constituents of the track two or secret dialogue in the past.There are, though, lot of speculations made about the group nothing can be said at hand.

                   It is said that the group had many secret meetings members of Parliament of Pakistan in an undisclosed country regarding the Kashmir issue. Now the question arise that whether the group had designed a road map on Kashmir issue which would be acceptable to people of Kashmir, India & Pakistan and the meeting which are taking place with Kashmiri people or members of Pakistani Parliament is a part of the same road map. The delegation seems to be focused on the four point formula that was given by Parvaiz Musharaf during his tenure.

What is 4-point formula?

                The main points of the formula are: Borders will remain as they are (on Maps) and people on either side of the Line of control (LoC) will be allowed to move freely; self-governance or autonomous status (not independence) to Jammu and Kashmir along with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir for internal management in all areas like trade, tourism, waters to maximize socio-economic development of the region through cooperation; troops to be withdrawn from the region in a phased manner; a joint supervising mechanism to supervise the implementation of such a road-map for Kashmir. This comprises of Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri representatives.    That the formula couldn’t be taken forward was unfortunate for all three stakeholders – J&K, India and Pakistan. Ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media advisor Sanjay Baru has written in his book titled “accidental Prime Minister” that India and Pakistan were all set to resolve Kashmir issue on the basis of Mushraf’s four point solution but the opposition made by many leaders including two senior leaders of Congress party and ex- national security advisor finally led to the falling apart of the entire process. Sanjay further writes that both the countries were very close on Kashmir resolution.

           Though the formula faced opposition only at a few levels in both Pakistan and India, as per Sinha some activities done by Pakistan against India impacted the dialogue. On their part the separatist leadership of Kashmir has time and gain voiced different opinions about the formula. Although Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, former chairman of hurriyat conference had supported the Musharaf’s solution saying the proposal was not only an acceptable solution but a very workable one too, where no party would have suffered the painful sense of defeat neither India nor the Pakistan and not even the people of Kashmir. The positive point here to mention is that after thirteen years, a silver lining has been seen when Sinha led delegation is again talking about the formula. The formula needs to be understood by all stake holders and strenuous efforts shall be made to rectify the reasons behind the failure of the proposed solution to Kashmir issue. After series of interactions in Kashmir, Sinha led delegation met President and Vice President of India Pranab Mukerji and Hamid Ansari in New Delhi respectively.

While Sinha, who was a key figure in BJP during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s era, has repeatedly claimed that the delegation was not an initiative by Indian government the argument has been hardly bought in the Valley.

          As per the members, there was a positive response from both the President and Vice President and they keenly heard the views and opinions put forth by the members of the delegation. As per sources, a large conference is going to be held at New Delhi in which all stake holders from Kashmir including civil societies, traders associations, separatist leaders and politicians would be invited so as to highlight and make efforts to resolve the long pending Kashmir issue. But it would be premature to talk about the outcome of the delegations repeated visits to Kashmir, at this point. Whether the delegation was eyewash, as many observers in Kashmir are alluding to or whether it is a real effort by Indian government, only time will tell. Recently, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti publicly announced that she would quit politics if Kashmir issue was not solved during her tenure. The repeated visits of various delegations to Kashmir following the five month long unrest in which 96 people were killed and over 15000 peoples were injured in action by the security forces and the claim made by the chief minister however indicates that the government of India may start afresh a political process to involve all stakeholders for resolving Kashmir issue.