Bengaluru, February 24, 2020 (PPI-OT):Former Indian National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan while advocating the resumption of political engagement by the Modi government with leadership in occupied Jammu and Kashmir has stressed that India needs to reopen a dialogue with Pakistan. Speaking at an event in Bengaluru, Narayanan said the government is running out of time diplomatically to explain its actions on the decision to amend Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the communication shutdown and mass detentions that have followed.
Mr. Narayanan, a former police officer and chief of the Intelligence Bureau who was known to take a hard line during his tenure as NSA under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from 2005-2010 while referring to composite dialogue process between Pakistan and India argued that “we did see a relatively more peaceful time in Kashmir when there were talks in the period between 2003-2008”.
“I am known as a hawk, and I am not in favour of Pakistan, but I believe we must move towards a dialogue with Pakistan,” he added. Mr. Narayanan was speaking as part of a panel moderated by The Hindu’s Resident Editor, Delhi, Amit Baruah, which included Ashoka University Professor Srinath Raghavan and Assistant Professor at the University of Kashmir Mohammad Ibrahim Wani, that discussed the Article 370 decision and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, entitled “The Kashmir Gambit: Can it pay off?”
Mr. Narayanan said there is a divide in India between those who think the government’s decision [of abrogating Article 370] was unwarranted, and those who support it as overdue. “This section believes that the root cause of Kashmir issue is an excess of freedom of choice. India is not united in looking at what happened in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that the continuing detentions and the strictures on communication were leading to misgivings about the situation there.
According to Mr. Raghavan, people in Jammu are worried about losing land and jobs to “outsiders” [the Indians] and have now demanded a special “domicile law” to restrict ownership of property and government jobs to residents. Mr. Wani felt that investors would not feel “comfortable” at present to invest in the Kashmir valley unless restrictions are lifted. Mr. Narayanan also said it would be a “mistake” to believe that economic development alone would reduce levels of violence, and stressed that a process of political engagement was necessary first.
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