Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, greaterkashmir.com
It is perhaps beyond the scope of this short article to lay out in detail what a coherent, multi-pronged “smart power” strategy could look like as Kashmir enters 2016. However, I would like to share a few broad ideas that can help contribute to evolving a shared public understanding of our current options to overcome the status quo and advance the Kashmiri struggle for a just and lasting peace.
On the diplomatic front, we must take a bold and proactive approach to advocate for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir Dispute and we must also demonstrate our serious will to negotiate. We must recognize that dialogue and negotiations is a necessary part and parcel of our struggle. We must never shy away from any process that has a chance of moving the Kashmir Issue towards resolution – be it dialogue and negotiations, intra-Kashmir dialogue and consensus-building, or Kashmir-centric Confidence Building Measures. While advocating our rights and aspirations, we must position ourselves as the primary stakeholder for peace in the region - which we are - and we must not allow any room for others to somehow paint Kashmiris as the spoilers of peace in South Asia or as rejectionists or obstructionists. We should encourage any and all efforts to improve relations between India and Pakistan, we must encourage and invite the leadership of India and Pakistan towards statesmanship and we should continue to push for the involvement of Kashmiris in any peace process. If ever a serious opportunity arises, we should stand ready to engage in dialogue to put across a Kashmiri agenda for talks and place Kashmiri interests, aspirations, concerns and ideas on the negotiating table. We should not let any potential opening become a missed opportunity. Alongside efforts to engage the Governments of India and Pakistan, an effective Kashmiri strategy should also involve more rigorous public diplomacy to reach out to public constituencies in India and Pakistan to advocate and build wider support for a solution to the Kashmir Dispute that upholds Kashmiri rights and interests. ...