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Valley unrest: Perplexed government looks for a 'political solution'

September 14, 2010 00:45 IST

It seems that realisation has dawned, at last, in New Delhi that the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir has become a national crisis. The government is waking up to connect to the state, which is under the wave of violence, notes Sheela Bhatt.

According to a top-level source, the government is looking for a 'political solution' for the turbulent situation which has crippled the Valley.

The source, well versed with the Kashmir issue and part of the government's handling of the ground situation, said in an off-the-record conversation that there is a realisation that the situation has gone beyond just changing or not changing the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

On Wednesday, government has called an all-party meeting in New Delhi to discuss the political options, since the Kashmir issue requires a national consensus.

After the meeting, the political leaders of all the parties will be taken to Srinagar to meet Kashmiri leaders and see the ground situation.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has asked for the resignation of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, and even the Congress is also looking for a way to disassociate from him.

Congress is trying to remove the impression in the state that Omar Abdullah is being supported by no less than Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Omar's lackluster performance, his immature leadership of the state and his alienation from the people has complicated the Kashmir situation.

The government and the Congress party are clearly worried to see that Omar Abdullah has become a 'mere liability' for them. But, since he is a democratically elected leader of the National Conference, it's not entirely in hands of New Delhi to force him to resign.

According to a Congress source, Omar Abdullah had offered to resign some two weeks back but his father and Union minister Farooq Abdullah prevailed upon him to stay on. 

In India's security establishment, many experts have commented that Omar Abdullah has been a failure, but his exit at this time will be a clear victory for the separatist forces, who are precisely working to discredit him.

Also, New Delhi doesn't have any better option on hand to fill the leadership vacuum. In J&K, Governor's rule always brings a wave of discontent, because it's considered to be 'Delhi's rule.'

Also, the past experience says that it's always highly complicated exercise to hand over power back to local leadership in Kashmir.

In the political moves and counter-moves between separatist forces and New Delhi, time is favouring the separatist and disruptive forces.

The coming visit of United States President Barack Obama in November is uncomfortably close. Any further mishandling or flare up in the Kashmir crisis is likely to put pressure on Americans to take a note.

Many diplomats have noted that in spite of rising violence and high death toll, Americans have so far not issued any statement over the Valley situation.

When the host country is struggling with a national crisis, that too in Kashmir, the guest will surely feel the heat too. 

Government's search for a political solution is a move forward, but alienated Kashmiris are unlikely to take it seriously.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi