Tumultuous Times

Bringing together political leaders into a common forum is not always an easy task given the intractable conflict and the near zero level communication that usually define their (dis)association. One of the first steps in ameliorating this discord would be to re-establish channels of communication between parties who otherwise would find it difficult to meet or acknowledge any contact and in improving the quality of communication and consequently of understanding across conflict lines. 

The recent news report about three political groupings in Jammu & Kashmir making efforts to come together in a common platform augurs well for the Kashmiri people who have known no peace in their State since militancy reared its ugly head. The National Conference President Omar Abdullah had mooted the proposal for a joint peace (with no politics involved) rally with his arch rival - the People’s Democratic Party and Hurriyat Conference for restoration of peace in J & K.  Sharing the same dais at a press conference for the first time both the PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti and Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq responded positively.

It is well accepted that respecting one another is the first positive step in building a relationship and relationships are central to conflict transformation. One need not have to like a person or understand his or her viewpoint to accord them respect. Respect comes with the belief that a person or group can have beliefs contradictory to theirs but still honoring them. The Omar, Mehbooba, Mirwaiz communiqué in this sense was all about showing respect for each other’s position or difficulties.

For the Nagas today, finding peace in these tumultuous times of fratricidal conflict is a difficult and sometimes impossible task. As hard as it may be, the continuation of killings and political violence will only perpetuate hatreds and stimulate vengefulness, further fueling the continuation of the conflict. It is time for those who are concerned; to help restore peaceful coexistence among the different factions. The first step for this to happen would be to make attempts in reducing tensions and to create an environment in which the causes of conflict can be addressed and peace can be achieved through a dialogue process. 

The first step is also usually the most difficult and the objective of such an exercise is not to find a solution, but to lessen or remove the poison and distrust in the atmosphere with the hope that it would facilitate other options to work on later. A process of dialogue must begin soon but to do this would be even more difficult because of the schism which has been set in motion by the turns and twists of recent events not favorable to amity. 

Even if the Naga Hoho or the Consultative Committee for Peace were to take this initiative, they may have no locus-standing in the present scenario given that some groups and tribes have been completely alienated by certain acts of commission or omission on their part. Only those who are respected within the community will most likely be able to bring or encourage peace. But the problem is there are not too many of them left who could play the role of mediation. To some extent, the Church and Mothers besides some prominent individuals may be the only one’s who could step in and play the role of peace makers at this crucial juncture of the peace process.