State's Inward Approach Has Not Helped It

26 January 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: After weeks of obscurity on the political front, a clear bright spot has appeared on the horizon as the two principal parties PDP and BJP are close to forming the government. That's the good news. The better news is that the two parties have a unique opportunity to elevate the inter-regional relationship and a grand opportunity for Kashmir to play its role in national affairs in a big way. The opportunities for the two to work together are unmatched. Looking beyond the numbers and government formation, the PDP and the BJP should first feel that they are in good company by being with each other. The combination should not be seen as a compulsion but as a way forward for the state and also an opportunity to improve state's relationship with the Centre. That there is a lot of mistrust between the two will be an understatement. It has to be bridged and that is for the betterment of both sides in the given situation in the global scenario. What exactly is plaguing Jammu and Kashmir? There is no one reason that can sum up the problems of the state. And, if a new climate of more cooperation on more issues is to be built, the need is to have a sense of accommodation. That should be before and after the formation of the government. There are fears that the contentious issues from both sides would stand as insurmountable hurdles even after the government is formed. That is where the sagacity of the two parties and their leaders should come into play. And, that's not asking for too much. The two parties need to take this relationship to a new level and that would help address all the problems faced by the state, ranging from the financial crisis and the ruptured relations between two major regions of Jammu and the Valley. Both sides have several concerns that they want redressed. The two sides can keep pressing for the resolution of these issues, which include the protection of the special status of the state, revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, rehabilitation of West Pakistan refugees and equal empowerment of all three regions. This can happen through face-to-face discussions after the government is formed. These issues should not hold hostage other issues on which cooperation, convergence and conciliation are possible. If the PDP and the BJP decide that they would not use their issues as a platform to incite the passions of the people, much would have been achieved and the verdict of the voters would stand vindicated. Calling on the PDP and BJP to work together has an undeniable logic. Both parties are destined to fail if they attempt to confront the Kashmir's problems as per their own respective agendas alone. The scope of how much they can achieve on their own is limited. Only togetherness and elevating the relationship to achieve greater objectives can make them work for the benefit of the masses. The leaders should realise that maintaining economic and political stability in J&K is a must. This is not only a national but also an international necessity. Kashmir's elections are an international asset for India. This time it has been a greater asset than ever before. The BJP should understand it. Kashmir is transforming itself. The BJP too will have to transform itself. Kashmir's rise as a democratic place over the past nearly two decades has come at a great cost. But it cannot isolate itself from the nation. Kashmir cannot live on the premise that it will help itself by helping itself first. It has been reluctant to play a role at the national level. Its visibility in the national affairs will help it more than otherwise. It has to share national concerns, the inward approach has not helped it till now.