GK Pillai’s Soft Talk

It made interesting news to read the statement of the Union Home Secretary GK Pillai wherein he mentioned that the government of India was hopeful of a Naga solution by the year end. Pillai was speaking to the Northeast Press Service (NEPS) Editor when he made this remark at New Delhi on Sunday April 17, 2011. This is not the first time that Mr Pillai has put a time frame on the dialogue process. If we can recall, sometime in the year 2009, the same Mr Pillai had indicated that a political package aimed at finding an “acceptable and honourable settlement” to the decades-old political conflict in Nagaland would be made by the end of the year. While Mr Pillai did come on a two day visit to Kohima in October 2009 calling on the State government and Naga civil society groups, no such ‘package was made’ as mentioned. Then again during the beginning of last year i.e. in February 2010 Mr Pillai disclosed that the Naga issue would be resolved in 12 to 24 months.  Now a little more than a year later, the Union Home Secretary has once again said that a solution could be in the offing by the year end. The statement of Mr Pillai comes as bizarre and quite unexpected from a senior level government representative. Not that the Nagas do not want a solution to come before the year end. In fact the decade long peace dialogue between the GoI and the NSCN/GPRN has been endlessly going on without any final agreement till date.
While there is nothing wrong in keeping deadlines, what can Mr Pillai and the establishment in Delhi also do in order to push the political process to its logical conclusion? The Government of India appears to be dilly-dallying and putting as much strain on the peace process so that things become more difficult especially for the Nagas to reach an honourable deal. If the Naga political groups must come together (as this is very important), then Delhi should make this clear so that the Naga people can also do their “homework” as Mr Pillai has suggested in his latest remark on the Naga issue. What is of concern, going by the thinking of the Union Home Secretary, is the inconsistency and confusion, of how to expedite the Naga peace process. Delhi looks to be sincere and willing to engage the Naga people. However it is still not clear on the roadmap to achieve the goal of a political settlement. Take for instance, another of Mr Pillai’s remark telling that the Nagaland government “should involve in the process”. As we all know, right from the time the Naga dialogue process began, the State government has at best played the role of a facilitator without getting involved. Mr Pillai should be clearer and communicate his wisdom to the Naga people including the Nagaland government so that the peace process can be expedited. The Union Home Secretary could start by explaining the reason/s behind the delay in coming to a settlement on the Naga issue. He should also in clear terms tell what needs to be done by the Naga people to reach this goal of an early political settlement.