Un-Ending Talks

The Government of India-NSCN (IM) peace process, which completed another round of ‘inconclusive’ talks at Amsterdam, is heading for nowhere. The talk appears to have reached a deadlock with both sides ‘sticking to their stated positions’. It is obvious that if it had not been for the role of third party mediators, the peace talks would have run out of steam by now. The mediators are keeping the process afloat although New Delhi does not want to officially acknowledge this. But for all practical reasons, the presence of international third party groups and individuals is a reality. However, it has to dawn on both sides that decision at the end would have to be theirs and no amount of expertise can aid the process if the parties refuse to budge or do not demonstrate reciprocity or the political will to resolve the problem.

Both sides having agreed to extend the ceasefire in Nagaland by one more year as was agreed upon in the Bangkok round of talks in July, the promise to move “expeditiously” discussing all “substantive” issues must be honored. Both sides are reported to have agreed on a broad framework to resolve the Naga issue politically. However Delhi is taking too long to take decisions and this is not helping the peace process. It also raises concerns about the Government of India’s sincerity in bringing about an honorable solution based on the unique history and situation of the Nagas. If push comes to shove, the NSCN (IM) should seriously contemplate putting a clear timeframe for Delhi to reach a settlement. Both parties should not look beyond the end of the current ceasefire which expires on August 2007. By explicitly stating this, the NSCN (IM) would get better results out of the process and putting necessary pressure on the Indian side. 

The Government of India should be reminded once again that having traveled the peace road thus far, and having drawn in the Naga people as co-owners and partners to this journey, an added responsibility now rests on India’s shoulder to see to it that this cause for peace and friendship does not go in vain. It also goes without saying that the basic premise on which the process itself began—which was to find an honorable-negotiated-peaceful-political -settlement to the over 50 year long problem—be attended to without anymore delay. That the peace process has seen the personal involvement of at least four Indian Prime Ministers should also be taken as a political mandate of the people in India.   

Patience is running out for the people who are losing faith in the peace process. It goes without saying that both New Delhi and the NSCN (IM) must manage the remaining period of the ceasefire much more judiciously. The Government of India must also be reminded that the Naga people’s commitment and investment on the nine year long peace process should not be allowed to go in vain. Failure to acknowledge this will bring to naught whatever goodwill has been generated by the peace process.