I want to thank the Organising Committee for the invitation to participate in this Consultative Meeting today.
This is the 8th consultation conducted by the NSCN (IM). Today I am recalling the first consultation held in Niuland in 1998 to which I was also invited to participate in and given the rare privilege to be one of the two speakers from Naga Civil Society. Dr. Wati Aier was the Chairman and the other speaker from civil society.
As I prepared what I might share on that occasion a clear thought came to me at that time. It startled and inspired me. It was that the idea to consult widely with fellow-Nagas was a precious guiding thought God in His wisdom had given to the leaders of the NSCN (IM) at a very critical turning point in the difficult struggle of the Nagas for their aspirations. On more than one occasion I passed on this compelling perception to the leaders about the consultation process they had launched. I said it was a fearful, awesome responsibility God had given to them because He wanted them to fulfil His plan and He believed they had the capacity to do the job.
We know Socrates’s oft quoted observation that “A life not examined is not worth living.” And we know from our own bitter experience over half a century now that the same thing happens to a people’s struggle or movement if it is not examined and our wilful human ways and schemes are not corrected to restore the health of the struggle. History is full of examples that a struggle not examined truthfully becomes impossible to pursue, and it ends up destroying itself and the people for whom it was started in the first place. And no Naga will disagree that this is true also of our “Over ground” political process. Here we must be clear the unexamined thinking and living of all of us has produced this common suicidal destructiveness.
I have believed this consultation idea was God’s road map and guidance to us through the NSCN (IM) to rectify our wrong ways, and revolutionise our inadequate thinking and living so that our society will rise in unity to achieve what is right and best for all, through radical change in all of us, instead of sinking together blaming one another over who is right or wrong.
Because of my abiding conviction about the importance of this process I have decided to come again to make the same point I have been making from the start sensing that the new invitation is another opportunity for creating understanding, utilising it for clearing up the political process that has become damaged and dirty.
At the first consultation in 1998 I said that if the NSCN (IM) starting their negotiation with the Government of Indian succeeded in getting India to recognise Naga sovereignty as understood by the Naga people, the entire Naga public and all the rival groups would simply say “Thank you” and get on to celebrate the achievement together. But if they discovered that Delhi was not in a position to discuss sovereignty because it was too difficult for India, and IM decided to negotiate for something other than sovereignty, they needed to call the different fragmented groups and tell them the truth about the new situation and thrash out together in complete transparency a common position on the terms for political negotiations with Delhi for a settlement of the Indo-Naga issue.
And today I emphasise that you consult and take into consideration the views of all the other factions even if you don’t agree with all their points. Failing to do this, history will always judge and things, as you know better, can go very wrong. This would also be the beginning of real reconciliation as this would be deciding together honestly on the most difficult issue over which Nagas have killed Nagas and the Indian Army has killed Nagas and all Nagas have paid a very heavy price of suffering. I recall saying on that occasion that, given the hurts we had inflicted on one another already, without honesty with one another at this level, distrust and resentment would take over and our society would head for disaster.
It will be fair to say that the vast majority of the public yearn for the consultation process to achieve the most desired unity and mutual goodwill and cooperation among our national workers. And because of the undoubted potential of consultation to achieve a desperately needed miracle for our people in our worsening crisis, allow me to make this plea even now that as part of your continuing consultations a very special invitation be extended to the different groups of the struggle to come together and they are told the envisaged details of the agreement being pursued with the Government of India. This would be a telling gesture that will speak loudly and may do unexpected good things to the process.
Finally, the deepest fear and concern with which our people are wrestling is what will happen after a settlement. The greatest gift the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India can give to the Nagas is to guarantee that no violence or threat of violence will be employed in the implementation of whatever settlement may emerge. No one yet knows what the details of the agreement are going to be. All is speculation so far. The hope and deepest desire of our people is that when it comes it will take our society and whole region forward so that a stability hitherto unknown will become a reality and growth and development in all dimensions will become possible.
I would like to end with 4 points a friend I met and consulted yesterday asked me to express today. They were made by Bill Clinton on a visit to Wales concerning Conflict Resolution:
1. Present day problems are mostly the fear of the other.
2. The need of the day is to think of a future different from the past.
3. No one has the monopoly of the truth.
4. To befriend a people, you have to understand not only their dreams and hopes, but also understand their worst nightmares.
The Nagas have gone through terrible nightmares. Whatever any settlement any group may bring, nightmares on no account should be the consequence for the people anymore.