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'The Pakistanis have a hand in Kashmir'

Last updated on: June 20, 2018 10:35 IST

'Pakistan had almost disappeared from Kashmir.'
'Now in the last three, four years we have brought Pakistan back again by not handling Kashmir properly.'

Clashes erupted in Srinagar between locals and security forces following encounters in Shopian and Anantnag, April 1, 2018. Photograph: Umar Ganie for Rediff.com

IMAGE: Clashes erupted in Srinagar between locals and security forces following encounters in Shopian and Anantnag, April 1, 2018. Photograph: Umar Ganie for Rediff.com

"We need to move forward on Kashmir and we have to move forward with Pakistan," former Research and Analysis Wing chief A S Dulat tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf and Saisuresh Sivaswamy in in the second part of an exclusive interview.

"These are parallel channels. We need to deal with both," Dulat -- who served as then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's advisor on Kashmir -- points out.

 

How did a R&AW man like you turn into a peacenik? Were you always like this or did you change later?

Kashmir taught me a lot.

You need patience. You need to talk to people and if you want to talk to people you must have some empathy.

I have been out of the government since 2004 and Pakistan always interested me. That is how I came into contact with Pakistanis with Track II business.

General Durrani thought he could trust me and that is how it happened.

Even if you talk, dead bodies are coming and even if you do not, dead bodies are coming.

There was a period in Kashmir -- the period from 1996 to 2008 -- there was no problem like you see now.

Unfortunately, in 2008, the Amarnath incident happened and now the situation is very bad since 2016.

The Pakistanis have a hand in it. General Durrani too agrees that after the Burhan Wani incident Pakistan cannot get into it, but after the surgical strikes they feel now that they cannot keep out of it.

Peaceniks in both India and Pakistan say that once the Kashmir issue is resolved relations between the two countries will be normalised.
On the other hand, hardliners in India warn that the day Kashmir is solved, Pakistan will enter India and sit in Himachal Pradesh.
With these two contradictory views running in our country and such a trust deficit between the two nations, do you see a situation where some kind of peace is achievable?

I think both are right in a way. If Kashmir was solved, does that end all our problems with Pakistan?

Possibly not, but I look at this way, if Kashmir was solved, then a huge problem will be solved, at least from our point of view.

It is one area where we are vulnerable from time to time and we go through this cycle of violence.

Dr Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf had got close to solving it.

Had there been an agreement then, as I see it we would have possibly had 15 years of peace. It is sad that it did not happen.

But to hope all our problems will end possibly not because there is a huge trust deficit. So we need to move forward on Kashmir and we have to move forward with Pakistan.

These are parallel channels. We need to deal with both.

It takes me to Atal Bihari Vajpayee who said that the permanent confrontation with Pakistan must end and we must move forward in Kashmir, and I am a great believer in Vajpayee.

India has stated that Kashmir is a domestic issue and there is no role for external mediation in what is its internal matter. How does one deal with this chicken-or-egg kind of situation?

You are right, both come first. It is a domestic issue provided we deal with it domestically.

The problem here is we do not deal with Kashmir the way we should deal with Kashmir.

When you stop engaging with Kashmiris and stop talking to Kashmiris, then Pakistan looms much larger.

Otherwise, I agree that Pakistan has a very peripheral role.

In fact, Pakistan had almost disappeared from Kashmir. Now in the last three, four years we have brought Pakistan back again by not handling Kashmir properly.

Kashmir needs full time attention and there should be engagement all the time.

If we are engaging with Kashmiris and if they are happy, then Pakistan, as you say, has no role.

But Pakistan cannot be wished away, we must remember that also.

India has made it clear that talks will not happen with the Kashmiris unless they talk within the framework of the Indian Constitution.
So what is there to talk to the Kashmiris as they do not accept the Constitution?

Who does not accept the Indian Constitution?

The Kashmiris.

The same Hurriyat came to talk to (then deputy prime minister and home minister Lal Kishenchand) Advaniji in 2004. Do you think the deputy prime minister of India can talk outside the framework of the Indian Constitution?

These are worms in our minds. Kashmiris know what they can get from India, but as the time goes on he feels they are not going to get anything.

In fact, India will take something from them. That is the reality.

How can this longstanding status quo be broken?

By engaging and talking.

I am glad you asked this question. People have developed a huge vested interest in the status quo.

Everybody -- be it militants, politicians, security forces, government, the Opposition, everybody.

Status quo theek hai, but the status quo does not suit us and it goes against us. Because the status quo brings Pakistan back again.

Now I am reading horrifying things that those militant outfits that have been defunct for years are being revived.

It may be an exaggeration, but it is a scary thought.

So the status quo suits everybody and that is unfortunate.

It pains us to see our soldiers die every day in Kashmir. It leads to a hardening of our stance, that what is there to talk to Pakistan.

Anybody who gets killed -- whether it is a jawan or Kashmiri, and the ratio of Kashmiris dying is more than jawans who are dying -- it is very unfortunate that we have to lose people from the army who are in a no war area.

But you have to think why are we using the army so much in Kashmir?

Our generals said that neither we nor the militants are going to achieve their aim in Kashmir.

(Former army chief) General (Ved Prakash) Malik said the army has been far too long in Kashmir and we must think of withdrawing from some parts.

(National Conference leader) Omar Abdullah said it about AFSPA, let us take out the army from areas like Budgam and check if there is a problem, then we can always send them back. But it was not done.

So the Kashmiri minds feel they are going to be beaten and there will be no respite. Pakistanis will beat them and so do we.

I am not holding any brief for any militant, but unless you talk, this cycle of violence will continue.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf and Saisuresh Sivaswamy