The main bone of contention, the integration of Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, is yet to be resolved. Both sides are, however, negotiating on other alternate possibilities to find an amicable solution to the six-decade long Naga political problem.
Mr Pandey, a 1972 batch IAS officer, now retired, had spent his early years in Nagaland. In fact, he was the longest serving deputy commissioner of Mon district bordering Myanmar and later became the chief secretary of the state. This fact has probably endeared him to the Naga people and the Union Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram also found him the most suitable candidate for handling the Naga issue. Subsequently, he was appointed as the interlocutor only last month. But within a span of only one and a half month he is reported to have broken many barriers.
During his recent trip to Nagaland, Mr Pandey met large sections of people including students organisations and political parties to gauge the mood of the people. Almost everybody said that that they were very pleased with his maiden visit and interactions with the people.
The president of the Naga Council, Savi Leigise told the rediff.com, 'we are very happy for his appointment as interlocutor. In fact, this is the first time the interlocutor has come here to meet us. We hope that the Naga political issue will be settled soon."
According to N Ngullie, general secretary of the Naga Council, Dimapur, 'we hope that the Government of India will soon find out a solution to Naga political problem. We want peace. We also urge the underground NSCN leadership to show flexibility while negotiating on the Naga issue."
Mr Pandey on his part said, 'everybody in Nagaland want an early solution to Naga political problem. Government of India is also very keen to resolve the issue. We will also ensure that a solution is acceptable to all sections of Naga society."
Mr Muivah has also returned to New Delhi from the Hebborn ceasefire camp located in Dimapur. During his meeting with his cadres and leaders including his underground cabinet colleagues, he is reported to have stated,'this time the government of India appears to be more positive in its dealing with the vexed Naga problem."
This is seen as a positive development by the centre. However, it remains to be seen what comes out of the next round of formal talks.