Singh To Focus On Dialogue With ‘All Shades Of Opinion’, Economic Reconstruction

Singh To Focus On Dialogue With ‘All Shades Of Opinion’, Economic Reconstruction

24 May 2013
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit to Kashmir, for the first time since the secret hanging of Afzal Guru on February 9, has come under spotlight. With the PM set to visit to the Valley amid peace overtures by the Prime Minister-designate of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, New Delhi is all set to broaden the ambit of consultations on Kashmir to start a “constructive dialogue” with all shades of opinion. According to highly placed sources, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has begun working on the ‘mission’ and seek a thorough feedback on issues facing Kashmir, including the economic reconstruction, and dialogue with stakeholders to find a viable solution to the vexed issue. The PM is scheduled to visit the Valley on June 25-a move which is seen as a “first major step towards reviving dialogue” after the secret execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru that triggered a deep discontent between New Delhi and Kashmir and New Delhi-Islamabad as well. Reliable sources in the PMO told Greater Kashmir that ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit, top officials of the PMO, including his Advisor TKA Nair-one of the trusted confidants of the Prime Minister-has been assigned to “work out the modalities of getting a fresh feedback on Kashmir.” “The PMO has adopted a two-pronged strategy on Kashmir: economic reconstruction of the State on fast track and revival of constructive dialogue process with all stakeholders, including separatists,” a source, privy to the development, said. He said the Prime Minister is of the opinion that J&K has suffered a lot over the past 22 years of strife and had been on the backseat on the development front. “The Prime Minister and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi want to ensure socio-economic development of the State. This would be done given the fact that Prime Minister has his own vision of economic resurgence in South Asia,” the source said. Sources said the Prime Minister was keen to pick up the threads of dialogue from where they were left when Nawaz Sharif was heading the state of affairs in Pakistan over a decade back. “The win of Sharif in the Pakistan elections recently has gone down well with New Delhi’s Think-Tanks. Sharif is known for his friendly gestures with India,” sources said. “The PMO seriously wants to revive a constructive dialogue by involving those who have been staying away from it. Not just the Hurriyat (M) leaders but Hurriyat(G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani would also be reached out (through back-channels).” For widening the domain of dialogue in Kashmir, the PMO is set to rope in series of and experts politicians including the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chairman National Minority Commission Wajahat Habibullah, former interlocutor MM Ansari, former RAW chief A S Dulat, former diplomat S Lamba, senior journalist Prem Shankar Jha, Pradesh Congress Chief (PCC) Prof Saifudin Soz and track two diplomat Ashok Bhan. “Governor NN Vohra would also be taken on board, though at a later stage,” sources said. Sources said New Delhi also intends to woo J&K’s youth towards mainstream. “At the same time, Centre is also seriously following the issue of return of Kashmiri Pandits,” they said. Talking to Greater Kashmir former interlocutor MM Ansari said he met Advisor to Prime Minister last month and raised some “issues of serious importance.” “I made it clear to him that unless we fulfill promises made to the people of Kashmir, peace won’t prevail there,” he said. Ansari said there are problems in Kashmir with regard to governance, implementation of schemes and human rights violations. “There has to be a direct interference of Centre. Effective mechanism has to be put in place to end the alienation. In J&K, there is 50 per cent population of youth who are in the age group of 25 years. They are annoyed and alienated. Centre has to first address their grievances and then ask the same youth as to what kind of Kashmir they want,” Ansari said. He said more than 5000 Kashmiri students studying in various institutes of India showed utmost patience at the time of hanging of Guru. “Centre has to keep this in mind,” he said. “Since Pakistan is about to form the new government and India is already in the election mode, new promises would be made. But everything boils down to fulfillment of those promises.” Soz in his guarded reply said: “I see a situation where the revival of dialogue is very bright. And incidentally, the visit of Prime Minister to Kashmir is an important step in that direction. The Prime Minister’s visit will give an opportunity for all shades of people to meet him.” Prominent lawyer Ashok Bhan, who has been working at various levels in the back-channel diplomacy on Kashmir, said there is a need for “uninterruptable dialogue and out of the box political process to address the Kashmir issue.” Political observers believe that it remains to be seen how separatist leaders would respond to renewed talks offer by the New Delhi. “New Delhi has to show some flexibility while dealing with Kashmir and separatist factions. Only then things would move,” they said. Pertinently, the Prime Minister is scheduled to release a stamp in the name of Kashmir’s famed poet Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor. Sources said the function would be organized at the SK International Convention Centre here on the banks of Dal Lake on June 25. Singh is also scheduled to “dedicate” Qazigund-Banihal railway line and Mughal Road to people.