Unilateral ceasefire declared by Government in Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan is a welcome move. It should be regarded as a positive step towards bringing back peace in the troubled state. It is no gainsaying that guns cannot bring any solution. If a solution of the Kashmir problem is to be found it can come only through dialogue. So the Centre’s bold initiative in Kashmir should be reciprocated by all concerned because a violence-free valley will definitely pave way for discussion, a demand which the Kashmiris are raising for long. There should be no provocation from either side. The security forces may continue patrolling in the State but should refrain from launching operations to flush out militants. On the other hand, the terrorists should accept the ceasefire declaration in true letter and spirit and not indulge in any attack on security forces or innocent citizens. Moreover, the separatist leaders need also to keep their mouth shut. It has often been found that more than the security forces of the terrorists, it is these leaders who vitiate the atmosphere more by their unnecessary and sometimes illogical statements or deeds. There is no denying that some of these leaders are popular among the masses. Though it talks about separation, Huriyat Conference is the most popular organisation in Kashmir valley. Now, taking advantage of the ceasefire, the organisation should start a dialogue with both the Centre and the terrorist groups. Huriyat leaders should realise that time has come for them to act as a bridge between the government and the misguided youths. Kashmir has witnessed enough of bloodshed. The paradise on earth should not be turned in to a graveyard by widening the gap.
We all know that all these are easier said than done. Ages of distrust between the two sides will not be vanished overnight. To build the trust, both sides will have to make sacrifices. Both sides will have to shed their holier than thou attitude and start talking to each other as frequently as they can. Clearly, both sides will not come together just by a month’s ceasefire. There is still lot more required to do. For example, if the ceasefire declaration can bring some success, the next step will be about Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA}. The issue which will come along with AFSPA is reduction of forces from the valley. If both sides can successfully cross these hurdles only then hope for a peaceful Kashmir will be brightened. Here we should make a point clear. We are not giving sermons to the people of Kashmir. We are speaking from our experiences as we have firsthand experiences on how to bring back peace in a trouble-torn State or region. More than two decades ago, when the ceasefire between Government of India and Naga organisation were announced, many spelled doom for the peace initiative within months. Initially, there were troubles too. But as days progressed, both the sides started knowing each other better one after another problems were amicably solved and now we are at the doorstep of a solution of the vexed Naga problem. Credit should be given to both the sides that though it took more than two decades to be near a solution, there was no lack of commitment, sincerity and respect for popular wish. So the same formula can be applied in Kashmir too because we all want to live in a violence-free society.