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Inevitable Change

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According to Pakistani media, Prime Minister Modi invited the ‘Gupkar Alliance’ and other parties for talks because of the pressure created by Imran Khan’s diplomatic efforts across the world. At the same time, it is being claimed that the talks are meaningless because the Hurriyat Conference was not a part. There is, however, a clear underlying panic that Modi’s initiative could lead to further integration of J&K with India – not just legally but also emotionally. This is best articulated in the statement on removing ‘Dilli ki Doori as well as Dil ki Doori’.

Pakistan also alleges that a demographic change is being sought to be brought about by Delhi in J&K. This threatens the long term delusion that its interpretation of the ‘UN Resolutions’ could lead at some time to a plebiscite in the state. It refuses to recognise that no democracy can adopt a differential approach to voting among its citizens, as had been the case in J&K ever since Independence. J&K is not an ethnic entity. Unfortunately, a lot of its residents were denied their voting rights on this basis. This is the correction that has been made and it would be impossible to go back on it.

Also galling to Pakistan was the acceptance by the mainstream parties that the Article 370 and 35 A issues would be left to the Supreme Court. As politicians, who have seen how dangerously close they have come to irrelevance following the turnout and results of the peaceful DDC elections, they know how important it is to deny new outfits the chance to occupy their space. So, while demands like restoration of statehood before holding assembly elections were made, there is awareness that they cannot insist upon it beyond a point.

The first priority even before elections is the required delimitation that would increase the number of seats, though it has been opposed by some of the parties. If this political process continues unhindered, a new J&K is bound to emerge that is free from the delusions of the past. The state has already missed out on a lot, considering it was once upon a time the most preferred tourist destination and, potentially, had the capacity to absorb much larger numbers than others of its kind. The 300 million plus high spending middle class that has emerged in India has preferred, instead, to head for foreign destinations. All of which has been J&K’s loss. It is the responsibility of the local politicians to ensure the mistake is not repeated and another generation condemned to unemployment and hopelessness.