With BJP having scored a resounding victory in all-important Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections,besides bagging Uttarakhand as well, the central party leadership including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be feeling elated. And given that the party’s victory is seen as a verdict in favour of the Modi’s policies, who has emerged as an iconic figure clearly overshadowing every other political leader not only outside but even within the BJP, it is expected that he will now be able to invest some attention to some of the pressing issues that are craving for it. This is exactly what Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti meant when she, while congratulating BJP and the Prime Minister on their resounding victory, sought Central government’s attention towards the problems confronting Kashmir.
While reiterating that the resolution of the momentous problems confronting Jammu and Kashmir should be brought to the centre-stage with fresh political resolve, Mehbooba called for making renewed efforts in reaching out to the people of J&K to end the vicious cycle of death and destruction here. “I hope the central government, under the leadership of Mr Modi, will make a renewed effort to reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, address the causes of alienation and trust-deficit and work towards finding a lasting solution to the problems plaguing the state,” she said and added that the time has come for engaging all the stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue to address the issues in a peaceful and cordial manner.
Since the day she took over as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been urging the central leadership to “pick up the threads and carry forward the reconciliation and resolution process started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003”, which she says had helped in “substantively transforming the ground situation here”. But thus far her counsel and pleadings have gone unheeded. Instead, in contradiction to what PDP has been saying to justify its alliance with the BJP, the Centre has maintained a very hard posture not only towards Pakistan but Kashmir as well -- as was evidenced by seemingly its lack of concern towards all the mayhem in the Valley during past summer’s unrest.
For those aware of how the politics works in this part of the world, this hard-posturing is easily understood. With an eye on the elections in several states, BJP’s had to do what it did, and it has certainly paid good dividends as well. But at the same time it is also true that this posturing has pushed Kashmir further deep into the conflict trap. This is exactly what Mehbooba Mufti is alluding to when she says the time has come for the Centre to “rise to meet the defining challenges of our time confronting Jammu and Kashmir and ensure a dignified and peaceful resolution of the problems confronting the state so that our future generations have not to suffer the miseries of violence and bloodshed.”
Now it is to be seen whether the BJP government at the Centre heeds the Chief Minister’s counsel this time around, or it once again chooses to trash it as it has done thus far! The stalemate that has crept vis-à-vis Kashmir – both in terms of its internal (Srinagar-New Delhi) and external (New Delhi-Islamabad) dimensions is helping none. While on one hand it is pushing the already alienated population to the wall and creating conditions for renewed bouts of public unrest in the Valley, on the other hand it is also pushing India and Pakistan towards the precipice. This gravity of this danger could be gauged by the fact that of late there have been regular warnings from about the possibility of “strategic miscalculations” by either of the two countries pushing them towards a full-blown war – a conventional war which could easily escalate into a thermonuclear one.