The healing touch
The appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as the Centre's interlocutor for the state of Jammu & Kashmir has borne some fruit. The former Intelligence Bureau chief who took office in October this year has already visited the Valley twice, meeting residents, members of different groups and even a leader of the separatist Hurriyat Conference. The Hurriyat had so forth backed away from engaging in any kind of dialogue, remaining firm on their demand for the freedom for Kashmir. Breaking ranks with the Conference, Abdul Ghani Bhat, executive committee member of the Hurriyat Conference and leader of the Muslim Conference met with Dineshwar Sharma on the latter's most recent visit to the Valley. With this, a new ray of hope has shone upon the Valley, which was being engulfed in the darkness of terror and violence that had handicapped its populace, restricting their every day and tainting both, their memories and future. The story of Kashmir is indeed a regrettable one. Amidst a battle between two nations, conflicting ideologies and staunch perspectives—the citizens have had to dim their lives, giving up the ordinary and sacrificing on ever achieving the extraordinary. The modern world cannot be marked by endless bloodshed and ruthless violence. It is an ongoing process that will only lead to loss—of life, livelihood, vision, dreams, property, hopes, everything. Dialogue, communication and mutual agreement are the only way forward. The priority, with which this battle is fought—to protect the sovereignty of Kashmiris—has long been submerged amid clashing claims and a struggle for power. Since the appointment of Sharma, the Centre's attention towards Kashmir has seemingly improved. With regular connection and access to a grievance cell, the citizens of the Valley, who had so forth escaped the purview of respective governments, have been brought under the direct supervision of the Centre. Kashmir needs to be healed, not simply cured. There isn't a scientific equation that will allow for an instant answer to emerge for the crisis in the North that has been fuelling since Independence. It will be a long-drawn process, requiring perseverance and care from all parties involved. The priority to protect the innocent lives battling harsh weather conditions and living with limited access to resources must never be forgotten. Though the conversation between Bhat and Sharma is a beacon of hope, the Hurriyat comprises of several fragments, most of whom are resolute in their decision of not interacting with members of the Indian state. Further, no solution to Kashmir can be possible without engagement with Pakistan. Given the current diplomatic state of affairs between the two countries, this possibility is bleak. Pakistan's release and celebration of Hafiz Saeed has angered the Indian government and the outcome of the Kulbhushan Jadav case still rests with the International Court of Justice. Pakistan has been India's biggest barrier to maintaining peace and harmony within the country. The constant threats flown in from the northwest frontier have disrupted our territorial harmony, jeopardising the lives of thousands across the subcontinent. A dialogue between India and Pakistan is not only difficult but in many cases, it would be almost farcical. Though Pakistan claims to vouch for the freedom of Kashmir, in all honesty, the disruption in the Valley does not perturb it. Instead, it feeds into this disruption as that harrows India and provides Pakistan with some more leverage within the sub-continental region. To come to a peaceful conclusion on Kashmir with Pakistan would be a futile exercise of muscle-flexing. Nevertheless, India must enter the pit now, for the sake of the Kashmiris—their sovereignty and their democratic right. No amount of international pressure seems to irk Pakistan, it has endorsed and emboldened terrorists; it will continue to do so. Pakistan has harnessed terrorists to hamper Kashmir's peace and today those terrorists garner more respect than even the Prime Minister of the country. Pakistan is a democratic mess and that is spilling onto our country, we must bring up our shields high above our heads before the fanatics of the West drive their irrationality further into our land. The Indian government has long ignored Kashmir, attending to the Valley only at the times of elections making empty promises of reform and change. The appointment of Dineshwar Sharma was a bold decision by the Modi government and it must remain undeterred in its dedication to preserve and uplift our citizens in the Valley, who deserve as much access to privilege as those of us living in mainland India. History has not been kind to the Valley, the repeated exodus of the Pundits and the Muslims, brutal killings and fuelling hatred have disrupted our paradise. Dialogue is the only way forward. The harsh bullets must now be dropped and the poise of communication must be embraced in its entirety.