Mehbooba Mufti, in an address to PDP workers and party members, has called for a ‘dialogue within’. She added that, ‘a peace process should start in the state which entails talking between ourselves as our people are fighting against each other.’ And that, ‘the relations between India and Pakistan but they cannot remain the same always’. Mehbooba also stated that, ‘we have to create such a good atmosphere in Kashmir that India and Pakistan are compelled to come together’.
The chief minister’s statement is in the nature of a non-sequitur. A non-sequitur is a conclusion that does not logically flow from the previous statement. This is not merely about semantics or a mere semantic quibble; it is consequentialist – albeit laced with contradictions. Consider the following. Kashmir is defined by a conflict which has internal and external dimensions. In a conflict zone, a dialogic dimension can only obtain if there is consensus over the resolution of the conflict between adversaries – the state and non-state actors plus, more importantly, the people.
But in Kashmir – a conflict zone – the state and other relevant actors and the people are at cross purposes. What would dialogue in this structural context mean? Nothing more than a rhetorical statement is the answer. This is insofar as the internal dimension of the conflict is concerned. Externally, there is the issue of contending and competing sovereignties and the respective clashes thereof. The reference here is to different and contrasting Ideas of India and Pakistan which are reified in their sovereign sense of self which then spills on over to the conflict over Kashmir.
Mehbooba, both explicitly and implicitly, through her statements is going against these structural realities. These logical contradictions that define her statement then annul it. All this is not to state or even imply that dialogue is a non starter. No, not at all! The starting point of any dialogue – both as an idea and as a process – has to be a consensus over the nature, cause(s) and denouement of a conflict. Kashmir is no exception to this general observation and idea. In the context of Kashmir then, a useful starting point would be an admission by all parties and stakeholders about the nature of the conflict. Once this consensus, whose central axis should be the realization of peoples’ aspirations, is arrived at, then working out other details becomes uncomplicated. This is the nub of the issue. The rest is mere verbiage.