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First time in history; Kashmir issue gets Norwegian touch : Kashmir Indepth Exlusive

Srinagar, Nov 23: The Kashmir conflict was born in 1947 soon after the partition of India and Pakistan. Till August 14, Kashmir was a princely independent State and with the birth of India and Pakistan, the wheel of fate catapulted in a way that Kashmir acceded to the Union of India. Kashmir’s accession to India gave birth to an unending conflict that consumed lakhs of lives and even witnessed deadly wars between India and Pakistan. Seventy years on, the conflict is alive.

On Friday, a ray of hope descended on Kashmir for the first time since 1947 as the former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Mangne Bondevik arrived in Srinagar on an official visit. His visit to Srinagar assumes significance given the fact New Delhi has been opposing any sort of third party intervention on Kashmir by claiming that “Kashmir was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.”

However, what signifies backchannel diplomacy on Kashmir is Delhi’s decision to allow Bondevik to visit Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and to meet top separatist leadership Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The meeting took place at Geelani’s Hyderpora residence and this time, the policemen deployed outside the aged leader’s residence had no objection. This hints at some sort of positivity on part of Delhi.

Norway has a history of conflict resolution across the globe. Norway has mediated in a number of conflicts including Israeli-Palestine, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Colombia, the Philippines, Guatemala, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sudan. Some conflicts have been resolved, but others have not.

According to a statement issued by the JRL here about its meeting with the former PM of Norway, the meeting was fruitful. “We (Geelani, Mirwaiz ) urged the Norwegian former Prime Minister that since his country has a history in playing a positive role in conflict resolutions; the Norwegian government should also make serious efforts to resolve the vexed dispute to mitigate the sufferings of people of Kashmir and for lasting peace in South Asia,” the statement of JRL said. “We explained to the Norwegian prevailing situation in Kashmir and termed it very sensitive and fragile.

What is more interesting is that the former Norwegian Prime Minister ensured the resistance leaders that they would try to ensure a result-oriented dialogue between India and Pakistan for an amicable solution to Kashmir issue.

What remains to be seen how far the step taken by Norway would go. “Given Norway’s expertise in conflict resolution across the globe, it is to be seen how far it can succeed in resolving the world’s one of the longest disputes called Kashmir,” a political observer said. “They say, good beginning is half done. The former PM of Norway has made a good beginning. Let’s hope for the best.”

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