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A New Dialogue Process in Kashmir: Hopes and Skepticism

The body of a dead fighter carried by Kashmiris in a protest The body of a dead fighter carried by Kashmiris in a protest Danish Ismail/Reuters

15 January 2018
A new dialogue attempt began in the region disputed by India and Pakistan, surrounded by  fears of radicalisation and hopes of peace.

The dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region has old roots. Since 1989 armed groups have been fighting for the Indian-administered part to either become independent or to be recognised as part of Pakistan. In the past months, India’s Prime Minister, Modi has appointed the former Intelligence Bureau chief, Dineshwar Sharma as an interlocutor to hold talks with stakeholders in Kashmir. This has opened a new round of dialogues over the fate of the region, within a period of broader tensions in Kashmir. In fact, in the past few months, the valley has seen the rise of a new radicalised youth, numerous terrorist threats and attacks, frequent violent protest and inhumane killings. Whilst the willingness of Modi to open a new dialogue is seen as a good sign by Kashmiris, given the fact that the Prime Minister has previously chosen a hard policy, there is not so much hope among civilians that the situation in the region can improve. This is mainly due to the failure of all previous dialogue attempts and the decision of the Hurriyat, the political union of the separatist movements, boycotting the process. Without Hurriyat, civilians and many experts fear that the process might be a mere formality instead of an organic peace-building dialogue. Others think that Hurriyat lost its strong influence in the region against terrorist/jihadist groups. In fact, due to the leadership vacuum left in Kashmir and the lack of government presence, ISIS ideologies have found a home in the valley, and created a new radicalised youth ready to fight against India. Despite the skepticism about its sincerity and effectiveness, the dialogue process is proceeding in Kashmir.


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