Quest for peace in Kashmir: PM Modi’s pick Dineshwar Sharma gets a thumbs up but he has a tough task ahead

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New Delhi | Published: October 24, 2017 12:30:24 PM

Dineshwar Sharma's responsibilities include initiating a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand the "legitimate aspirations" of the cross sections of society in Kashmir.

dineshwar sharma, who is dineshwar sharma, narendra modi, jammu and kashmir, kashmir interlocuter, kashmir peace, kashmir unrestNew Delhi: Dineshwar Sharma, former Director of Intelligence Bureau, calling on the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, after being appointed as the Representative of Government of India to initiate dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir, in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI Photo / PIB)

In a big development, Narendra Modi government on Monday appointed Dineshwar Sharma, former Director of Intelligence Bureau, as the representative of the Government of India to initiate and carry forward a dialogue with the elected representatives, various organizations and concerned individuals in Jammu and Kashmir. Sharma’s appointment for this purpose came as a surprise to many as the Centre had so far not shown much interest in initiating a dialogue process.

Sharma’s responsibilities include initiating a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand the “legitimate aspirations” of the cross sections of society, particularly the youth in Jammu and Kashmir and communicate them to the State Government and the Centre.

The move comes in the wake of Modi’s recent announcement that the Kashmir issue would be solved through dialogue. In his address to the nation on 15th August this year, Modi had said, “Neither by bullet, nor by abuses, but by embracing we can solve the problem of Kashmir”.

Thumbs up to Sharma’s appointment

The appointment of Sharma as an interlocutor has been welcomed by cross sections of society, including politicians from Jammu and Kashmir and the media.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti welcomed the Centre’s move, saying dialogue is the need of the hour and the only way forward. “Welcome the initiative of Union Government, appointing an interlocutor for leading a sustained dialogue with stakeholders in Jammu & Kashmir (sic),” Mehbooba said in a tweet. “This dialogue initiative is in line with P.M @narendramodi’s 15th August speech na goli se, na gaali se, Kashmir ki samasya suljhegi gale lagaane se (sic),” she said in another tweet while referring to PM Modi’s remarks in his Independence Day speech.

Omar Abdullah, former J&K chief minister tweeted, “Centre announces an interlocutor to engage with stake holders in J&K. Will keep an open mind and wait to see results of the dialogue process.”

However, Omar wondered as to what “legitimate aspirations” of people, Sharma would try to understand. “The ‘legitimate aspirations’ of people of J&K is an interesting formulation. Who gets to decide what is legitimate?” he tweeted.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government had realised the Opposition was right in calling for talks in Kashmir, former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said the appointment of the interlocutor — announced by the government today — was a major victory for those who strongly argued for a political solution.

Sharma’s appointment was also hailed by the media. “The Centre’s decisions to appoint an interlocutor, albeit not a politician, for dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir is a positive step,” wrote Hindustan Times.

The security forces have been successful in taking out as many as 160 militants this year. It was believed that the start of a dialogue process to build on the successes of security forces was necessary.

However, Sharma’s appointment is just a positive start. Several dialogues in past have failed to solve the Kashmir imbroglio. Sharma certainly has a big task at his hands.

Who is Dineshwar Sharma?

Sharma is a retired IPS officer from 1979 Batch of Kerala Cadre. He has served in Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur and as Additional Director and Special Director in the Intelligence Bureau.

Sharma is believed to have an in-depth understanding of security-related matters and considerable knowledge and experience of issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir.

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