Even statistics that usually stare back in cold print as numerals looked so good in the morning’s dailies - as the tidings from the local body elections in the Kashmir valley drift in. My mind goes back to the early 1990s when a day at work began in South Block reading the field reports from the military and security establishment tabulating the quantum of human blood that flowed in the Valley during the past 24 hours. I can understand the exuberance of Randeep Singh Nandal as he strains to draw parallel with epochal events like the breach of the Berlin Wall two decades ago or the electricity in the air above Tahrir Square recently. For all of us protagonists who saw the insurgency at close quarters and felt deeply alienated, this is a special moment. Nandal is right when he begins translating the statistics into the human condition hankering for the simple pleasures of life that had been denied for a quarter century.
This is where the importance of carrying forward the ‘Mohali spirit’ needs to be reiterated. Furthermore, a vast amount of follow-up is quickly needed in the Valley. Times of India has editorially cataloged a wish list: a) bringing J&K on par with other Indian states on the devloution of power to local bodies; b) empowering grassroot institutions; c) long-term security reforms; d) erasing the army’s heavy footprint, etc. Above all, the time is ripe to propose new CBMs to Pakistan that go toward making the LOC ‘irrelevant’. Indeed, there will be no dearth of hardliners on both sides (including, perhaps, within the Indian cabinet) but the caravan must roll on.
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