Monday, February 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Diplomatic row ‘pre-poll gimmick’
M. L. Kak

Jammu, February 9
While the Hurriyat Conference leaders prefer to “weigh and judge” the pros and cons of the latest diplomatic row triggered between India and Pakistan with the expulsion of senior functionaries of the High Commissions in Delhi and Islamabad, people in Kashmir treat it as part of the pre-poll gimmick “staged by the BJP-led NDA government.”

The Chairman of the APHC, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, refused to comment on the diplomatic row which had the potential of further straining the Indo-Pak relations. He told this correspondent “we will weigh and judge the impact of the row.”

However, he described the expulsion of officials from the two High Commissions in Delhi and Islamabad as “usual hiccups” adding that “it is not going to change the basic situation in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Professor Bhat said such rows were the result of “lack of a clear-cut policy on Kashmir” and Delhi continued to experiment by committing “one blunder or the other.” He said Delhi tried to “achieve some unknown targets but the result of such experiments was confusion and miscalculation.”



A doctor administers pulse polio drops to an infant
A doctor administers pulse polio drops to an infant during the pulse polio campaign in Jammu on Sunday.

On the other hand, common people in the state do not seem to have been “perturbed” over the expulsion of diplomats by the two countries. A university professor, speaking on condition of anonymity, remarked “it is not for the first time that the two sides have sent commission officials packing.” He said “there was no immediate provocation to Delhi for taking such a drastic step and I am convinced that the BJP-led NDA government wanted to woo voters in several states where the Assembly poll was round the corner” The teacher explained that over the years, both Delhi and Islamabad played the Kashmir “card to the hilt during any internal constitutional or political crisis or at the time of the elections.

“Hence nobody should feel either upset or amused over the latest diplomatic row,” he said.

Mohammad Yusuf, a trader who was on his way to Mumbai for booking orders for his goods, said “the row has further widened the chasm between Delhi and Islamabad.” He said “even if the ruling NDA planned to woo voters by assuming belligerent postures against Pakistan it was unfortunate.”

A senior CPM leader, Mr M.Y. Tarigami, MLA, said “the diplomatic row between India and Pakistan is very unfortunate.” He said “we cannot ignore the concerns India has displayed over the role of Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, but a certain level of accommodation was called for.”

Mr Tarigami said “a ray of hope had been discernible and many had expectations that the two sides will promote friendly relations but the expulsion of High Commission officials has derailed the peace process.” He had fears that people in Jammu and Kashmir would suffer on account of the growing hostility between Delhi and Islamabad.

He said “misunderstandings between the two sides and other pending issues can be resolved through sustained dialogue and for that a conducive atmosphere needed to be created.” “The latest diplomatic row may further vitiate the atmosphere,” he added.

However, reaction from the BJP circles was on the expected lines. One senior BJP leader said, “India has been a votary of dialogue. Delhi had told the international community that it was willing to hold talks with Islamabad provided Pakistan stopped aiding cross-border terrorism which it had not done.”

Reports from various parts of the state revealed that a majority of people remained unperturbed over the diplomatic row as they felt it was a routine affair. At the same time, many feared that the current row my trigger added tension on the LoC.

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