Unity First


The unification move by a number of underground organisations operating in the state, as reported in the local media today, is something which would raise hope amongst all in

the state, both those who believe a conclusive solution to the problem of insurgency through negotiation is the need of the hour, as well as those who think that the war must

be fought to its logical end. Nobody will deny that in the absence of such a common front, either of these goals would remain elusive, and in fact even effort towards realising

them would have remain a non starter. The second option, that of fighting the war to its logical end is pretty straight forward, and need no further elaboration, whether this

is desirable or prudent is another matter altogether. On the first proposition, that of reaching a resolution without having to fight militarily, there is much to be said. As

long a united front is absent, and as long as the decision of a single group remains not ratified by a united will, no peace overture can ever gather steam or legitimacy. This

is perhaps what has been inhibiting many of the parties from exploring peace possibilities other than through violence.

The logic of a prolonged conflict is such that certain very peculiar equations come to dominate its dynamics in more ways than one. As for instance, increasingly the situation

is one in which those who opt for peaceful negotiation of precisely the demands that led to the insurrections in the first place, are prone to earn the stigma of weakness and

betrayal of cause, charges which more than likely would stick too. Tough posturing for all the years always makes it seem a comedown to accept anything that seem softer than

the previously vaunted stances of uncompromising violent struggle till the actualisation of the dream that made the struggle inevitable when it was launched. The turnaround

would hence also become vulnerable to be portrayed as show of weakness by the hawks amongst the insurgents’ ranks, although we all know how false such perceptions can be. To

opt for peace is not an easy thing and it take plenty of courage to actually step forward and state the conviction. Given the commitment, there is also little that cannot be

settled by democratic negotiations that bloody wars seemingly can.

There is yet another dimension to what can be terms as “transforming conflict” and bringing it to a route of peaceful dialogue. While the conflicts last, the rhetoric and

indeed ideological drives being such, many lives, many of them brilliant, would have been lost to the cause. Turning around and changing direction of the struggle after all

that have happened would hence be burdened with a heavy conscience. The question that would nag the leadership in such circumstance would be about how they would explain the

shift in approach to the soul of those who made the supreme sacrifices in the course of the struggle till then. Would such a decision to change course amount to sending out the

message that those who lost their lives died in vain?

This last question and the answer to it is vital in any peace approach. It is a very sensitive question and should be treated as such by all parties involved on either side of

the conflict, if they are interested in lasting peace ultimately. Phrases such as “misguided youth” or “misled brethrens”, returning to the “mainstream” etc, are extremely

insensitive in this sense, and although perhaps not visible immediately, would leave residues of guilt and disapproval in the minds and hearts of many, sowing the seeds for

future trouble. The approach hence should be one of treating the new approach, if any, as a continuance of the struggle, and that this new turn was a logical consequence of the

road the conflict has been on thus far. That is to say, that it must always be acknowledged that those who lost their lives in the earlier stages of the violent struggles, made

invaluable contributions to the overall progress of the struggle, and that it was their sacrifices which made it possible for the struggle to make the new turn. Indeed, any

historian of insurgency would vouch that this indeed is always the case. It is unfortunate but seldom false that it is the language of violence that made an insensitive

establishment listen to the issues being articulated in the first instance. It is only after this attention has been won that people can begin talking meaningfully of a

peaceful negotiated settlement to the problem at hand. This being so, the genesis and history of an insurrection must be given the respect they deserve first before a new non

violent course to conflict resolution can be thought of as a meaningful alternative.


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