NEW DELHI: Prince Hamlet’s existential dilemma appeared to have gripped the hosts of the proposed NSA-level talks in Delhi on Thursday. The Indian government detained Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar for two hours only to release them just as inexplicably. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was similarly split.
Former BJP finance minister Yashwant Sinha opposed the NSA talks on August 23-24 alleging stepped up cross-border terrorism. His opponents in the BJP are sanguine that the talks have a limited purpose of discussing terrorism and should be held. Meanwhile, there are hints of unspoken grudge within segments of India’s diplomatic corps that the Pakistan policy is being choreographed by a former police officer, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
Analysts said that the arrest of top Hurriyat leaders and their subsequent release by the police before NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan had once again proved just how fragile the peace process is between the two neighbouring nations.
Hurriyat leaders including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah were put under house arrest and were released after Peoples Democratic Party MP Mehbooba Mufti intervened.
Maulvi Farooq said there was no intension to spoil the NSA talks.
“Hurriyat has no intention of scuttling Indo-Pak dialogue. We are merely attending a reception hosted by Pakistan. The government must decide how they want to move forward on Jammu and Kashmir issue. Delhi wants to follow a military policy not a political one.”
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik has decided not to attend the reception of Pakistan High Commission, instead he will send a two-member delegation.
Possibly the most biting comments came from pro-India Kashmiri leader Omar Farooq.
“Here’s what I think will happen - the talks will go ahead as scheduled, and the Hurriyat will meet Sartaj Aziz after the talks, over a cup of tea (their current invite is for dinner at the Pakistani High Commission on Sunday). The Modi government will claim this change as a major victory for their strong stand while remaining silent on all the contradictions and dilutions that this actually means.”
Mr Farooq said the talks would benefit Pakistan, not India.
“Pakistan will be able to wash off the sins of having remained silent on Kashmir in Ufa by claiming this as a victory of their Kashmir position, and the Hurriyat will just claim this as a clear indicator that they are the true representatives of the Kashmiri people. I wish the government of India attached as much importance to not losing face as the Chinese do, because today, the Modi government has lost face, big time.”
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2015