Aug 02, 2011

Nagalim: On the Brink of Compromise

After fifteen years of negotiations, representatives from Delhi and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim are close to a settlement that will allow for rapid political reconciliation.

Below is an article published by the Morung Express:

After months and months of what would seem like quiet diplomacy, some hard bargaining and of course lots of patience and commitment, the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim are finally looking at “working out a settlement in the shortest possible time”. This was announced in a rare but welcome joint statement signed by RS Pandey, Interlocutor, Representative of the Government of India and Th. Muivah, Chief Negotiator and General Secretary of the NSCN. Although there has been no specifics mentioned by both the two entities yet, there is enough indication or hint to suggest that some form of political settlement is going to take place soon. Credit must go to both sides, for having had the courage of conviction, to pursue the way of dialogue in order to settle what is arguably, one of the longest running conflicts in the region. According to whatever little information was contained in the joint statement, “sustained negotiations over the past few months have led to a set of proposals for an honorable political settlement based on the uniqueness of Naga history and situation which was recognized by the GoI in 2002, as well as the contemporary realities and a future vision consistent with the imperatives of the 21st century”. It further went on to add that while the differences between the two parties have narrowed, some of the proposals would require further negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable solution. So while it is true that the political dialogue has now dragged on for almost fifteen years and endless round of talks, the latest joint statement is indeed a significant push to the decade long peace process. Not only is it long overdue but in a way for Delhi, it makes sense to wrap up the Naga talks process given that it has now entered into similar processes with other armed groups particularly the ULFA and it will require effort and attention on its part. In fact before opening any serious dialogue with the ULFA, the talks with the NSCN should be brought to some form of conclusion.   

Without going into the speculation part on the contours of the current negotiation between the GoI and NSCN, what we will try and do is to look into one significant point made in the joint statement which is that both the parties are confident in “working out a settlement in the shortest possible time by appreciating and respecting each other’s positions and difficulties”. While it was always a known fact that for a dialogue to be successful there would have to be a spirit of give and take, nevertheless this is possibly the first time that a timeframe has been given for a settlement to take place. The use of the phrase ‘shortest possible time’ indicates a high level of trust and confidence and that both sides have more or less decided to take the plunge and to agree on a set of proposals, although it is possible, especially for the NSCN, to seek some specific terms of agreement and even a third party guarantee. This is well advisable given the bitter experience of Nagas entering into agreement/s with several political dispensations in India in the past. No doubt a solution is long overdue however the other obvious concern is to ensure that this is acceptable to all sections. As done in the past, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim should consult the Naga people. It should also continue to work with the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) and find a way towards evolving an inclusive platform through political reconciliation and consensus with the other groups.