Inclusive Peace Process

Unlike the discrepancy in the statement of Union Home Secretary GK Pillai, on the status and progress of the Naga political dialogue, at least the Government of India’s interlocutor RS Pandey, a former Chief Secretary of Nagaland, appears to be more consistent with his assessment of the Naga situation. Those who are shouldering the responsibility of pursuing peace objectives, like with the Naga people, should know the ground realities and also feel the mood of the populace. Pandey having served in Nagaland as a career IAS officer will be in a much better position to push and guide the negotiation process. Here, it is obviously clear that there is a gap in the assessment between the Union Home Secretary and the Interlocutor and this is a matter of concern for the political process. An interlocutor is expected to go into the heart of the process and therefore that person will be in a much better position to assess a particular situation. But then it is the establishment, here represented by people like the Union Home Secretary, who will have the discretion to accept or reject without actually knowing the real picture. This is unfortunate. The Naga political talks’ going on for the last decade or so obviously has dragged on for whatever reasons. Mr Pandey is the third Interlocutor to have been asked to pursue talks with the NSCN/GPRN. Former Home Secretary Padmanabhaiah served the longest talking to the Naga group in an attempt to find a solution. But then nothing concrete has materialized. It becomes obvious that the role and function of an interlocutor needs to be enhanced so that his views and suggestions can find greater space in the overall decision making process. Otherwise there is no point of merit in having such people in the first place unless they are allowed to have a greater say.      
Coming to the recent interview given by both Mr Pillai and Mr Pandey to the Northeast Press Service (NEPS) the former has given a time frame for a final solution while the latter has refused to give any time frame only expressing the hope that solution would be sooner than later. In other words it is still premature to spell out when the talks will end successfully that is. This is a discrepancy in the thinking between the two, which needs to be corrected. However for the Naga public, the State government, political parties and the national groups, the one clear unanimous message given out by both Mr Pillai and Mr Pandey is this: Doing our homework. Both have categorically stated that the Naga people should also do a lot of homework so that the peace process would expedite and move forward. For over ten years both sides have been putting out statements that they are sincere and talks are going on in the right direction or that both sides are committed to find a solution. If this is so then how come the process has been dragged on endlessly? We do not expect ‘full transparency’ to take place because in peace negotiation some amount of secrecy is required. However after more than fourteen years, the time has come to ‘democratize’ the dialogue process. Problems and difficulties must be shared so that the Naga public can also help in any ways possible. Although unclear and ambiguous, now that both the Union Home Secretary and Interlocutor have mentioned about ‘home work’, the Naga public can also respond and take the necessary initiative. Similarly the Interlocutor has stated about current position of the peace process by explaining the journey from Dimapur to Kohima (the final destination). Mr Pandey makes prominent mention of roadblocks standing in the way. To help in the process, he should clearly state what these roadblocks are so that the Naga public can also contribute their collective wisdom to help remove them. It is time to make the Naga peace process truly inclusive.