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Norwegian mediation is untenable
Omkar Dattatray1/12/2019 10:13:01 PM
It has been India's consistent policy and stand that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and there is no role of any third party intervention and mediation. Thus, keeping in view stated and clear position of India, Norway has no role so far as the resolution of Kashmir issue is concerned. Kashmir is a bilateral issue and can be solved by the bilateral initiatives and fruitful dialogue between the two stake holders of India and Pakistan and therefore there is no role for a third country to meddle into India's internal matters and more so the Norway whose former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondvik has paid a surprise visit to Kashmir in November, 2018 and has met Hurriyat Conference and some other political leaders. Surprisingly the former Norway Prime Minister had subsequently visited Pakistan occupied Kashmir and met a cross section of people and leaders there. It clearly implies that there is some interest of Norway in Kashmir issue and they want to mediate between India and Pakistan regarding Kashmir dispute because Norway has a long history of conflict resolution in the globe and keeping this in view, the visit of former PM of Norway Bondevik to Kashmir and occupied Kashmir has evoked a controversy in political circles, while some welcoming his visit of our Kashmir and Pak occupied Kashmir. National conference's Tanveer Sadik - political advisor of former CM of J&K Omer Abdullah has told Al-Jazeera, "if anything breaks the ice it would be a welcome step. But we need to know if government in New Delhi is backing the meeting". While move angered some within the ruling BJP with party MP Subramaniam Swamy hitting out at the government for allowing ex-Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik to interfere on Kashmir. He then said that Norwegian PM should be immediately expelled from India for his gross interference in internal affairs of India while in Kashmir. Who does not want resolution of the vexed issue of Kashmir but then third party mediation has no place in Kashmir resolution as per Simla agreement of 1972 and it should be left to India and Pakistan to resolve this ticklish issue which has been there since unfortunate partition of India in 1947. The issue of Norwegian connection and mediation has once again come to limelight because of the visit of Norway's PM Erna Solberg who began her visit to India by asserting that Norway will only be a mediator in Kashmir issue if both India and Pakistan agree but added that both countries are big enough to decrease the tension without external help. She came on Monday for two day's visit - the first of its kind by a PM of Norway in ten years. As already outlined former Norway PM Bondevik was in valley in November, 2018 but his visit was facilitated by Bangalore based art of living foundation. Therefore, the question about Norway's interest in Kashmir issue arouse because of his visit. As expected it because a political tool in the hands of opposition to attack ruling BJP. Opposition parties criticized Bondevik's surprise trip to Srinagar and then to Pak occupied Kashmir. Last month Indian external affairs minister Susham Swaraj told Parliament that the New Delhi, "Was not involved in organizing of the visit and meetings". She added that Indian government policy remained the same that "there is no scope for any third party role or mediation". Speaking about her predecessor's trip Solberg said that Bondevik went to Kashmir as a "Private Citizen". "He had an institute for peace and security which is a private institute in Norway. It is not a part of any government plan to be involved in negotiations. He was invited and he went. Our government policy is very clear. If we are going to help somewhere, they have to ask me for it. It is not an initiative which came from outside". It is a fact that Norway has done a lot in the resolution of conflicts between countries in the globe but it is also true that Norway steps in the role of mediator only if the parties involved in the dispute agree to its mediation. The last resolution was Combodia which was successful. It had also stepped in Sri-Lanka crisis but there it has not met with success. Solberg had made it clear if India and Pakistan agree on the involvement of Norway in mediation and arbitration, then only we will step in otherwise not. Solberg has said that no body from outside can create peace or make changes. It has to come from inside. The talks have to be partner driven by those who are part of the conflict. She further reiterated that with India not willing to have any third party involved in the dispute, there is no possibility of Norway or any other international entity to act as mediator. Pakistan has diametrically opposed position. In a tweet she said, "PM Norway has not offered to mediate between India and Pakistan as has been erroneously reported. Norway has neither been asked nor offered to mediate". The media reports had entertained suspicion that Norway is going to step in and mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir issue but the fact of the matter is that media and the opposition is making a mountain out of a mole hill as Soleberg has repeatedly contended that Norway will mediate only if both India and Pakistan agree but not otherwise. Thus, there is no question of creating an unnecessary and avoidable controversy but for the political expediency of election coming closer. It is a fact that Kashmir problem cannot be solved by military means but by talks between the parties. Soleberg further said that, "I personally do not believe a military solution solves the problem. I believe in peaceful solution". She cautiously and carefully indicated that both the countries will have to decide when they are ready for talks but citing good Scandinavian neighborliness, noted that decrease in tension would lead to lower expenditure on defense. When asked about the matter, India government sources pointed out Norway ambassador has already clarified on the matter. After a controversy broke out over remarks by Norway PM. The Norway PM Soleberg, "has not offered to mediate between India and Pakistan" on Kashmir issue neither has Norway been requested to mediate. The Norway PM said clearly that as per Norway policy, any peace initiative in which it mediates has to be requested for. Norway PM's offer of J&K mediation sparks a row. Speculations have been mounting for the past couple of months when as per reports from Srinagar in November, 2018 former Norway PM Bondevik visited Kashmir valley and met top Hurriyat leader Mirwiz Umer Farooq and Syeed Ali Shah Geelani and subsequently to a cross section of leaders and people in Pok and this controversy is revived again on the visit of PM Soleberg of Norway to India. Opposition parties seek clarity on the Norweigan mediation on Kashmir. Opposition parties ask Modi government to explain Ex-Norway PM's Surprise visit to Kashmir during which he met Separatist leaders. It has sparked a controversy with opposition parties questioning the government over the surprise trip of Ex-PM Norway to Kashmir. Omer Abdullah pointed fingers at Hindu nationalist government of Narinder Modi to explain the close door meeting held in Srinagar. What are the Norwegian's up to in Kashmir? Bondevik's trip to Kashmir was first by a foreign dignitary since Modi took over reigns in 2014 and some months after UN urged an international enquiry into human rights violations by India security forces. According to Ajai Shakula defense and security analyst, "there is complete vacuum in Kashmir at the moment. Hence this uncoordinated step that is filling that vacuum." In net shell there is no role for third party mediation in J&K as it has remained the consistent policy of New Delhi irrespective of the fact who rules the country and under which political party. Therefore mediation by Norway's PM or Ex-PM is untenable and cannot be allowed.
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