This refers to the editorial “Shaking hands with clenched fist” (Nov. 19). The resumption of talks on the Kashmir issue is more than a welcome step. The government should consider all shades of opinion in the Valley towards an open and inclusive environment for talks. This will negate any chances of third-party intervention and a U.N. plebiscite. There is need for taking concrete and cautious steps towards a “practical, pragmatic solution” as envisioned by our Prime Minster. The people of Kashmir should not be denied political justice and freedom to decide their future. This is a progressive and bold step for ushering in a much-needed tranquil environment in the region.
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Mr. Chidambaram’s effort at holding talks with the J&K secessionist groups is laudable. Peace has to come at the earliest, but it is lamentable that each separatist group has its own agenda than a broadbased stance to resolve the issue. The demand for tripartite talks, by one secessionist group is an example. India cannot accept it as it will erode its sovereignty. The National Conference considers one report as its political centrepiece. The PDP is reported to favour self-rule with cross-border representation. Yet another group rejects the democratic polity and secularism. Pakistan wants its own agenda implemented there. All these make it onerous for New Delhi to somehow arrive at a consensus over the stunted peace process.
The talks should focus on bringing all groups to democratic politics and integrate the people of J&K with the mainstream.
At the same time, the government has to urgently address the issues of poverty, under-employment, unemployment and corruption. The people of the State will not wish to secede if they are provided with a welfare administration in its true sense.
Sooraj Mon R.,