New Delhi(PTI): Voicing concern over violent non-state actors controlling large territories across the world and…
NEW DELHI,IFTIKHAR GILANI: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday appealed to the people to give her a chance to address the crisis in the state, underlining the fact that she has been in power for just three months and a half.
She has learned the hard way that governing restive Jammu and Kashmir with international dimensions and a symbol of nationalistic pride for many within the country, was not an easy task. At times it consumes political credibility. While her 46-yearold predecessor Omar Abdullah’s hair turned grey during his six year rule, by facing stone pelters hartals, separatists calls, and in assembly a brisk opponent, strain and wrinkles are already visible on the face of Mehbooba.
“I appeal to all those protesting in the streets. You may be angry with me, I may be angry with you. But please give me one chance to address your concerns and aspirations,” she said.
In an exclusive interview with dna, after her 45-minute-meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the first time since the unrest broke in the state on July 8, Mehbooba said she outlined a three-pronged action during the meeting.
It included the involvement of separatists and Pakistan in a substantive dialogue and a solution in the light of the contemporary geo-political realities. But she refused to divulge details.
Mehbooba said that good governance in her state was linked to peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. “How can you govern and undertake development-related work when there are tensions?” she said. On this front, she blamed Islamabad for not responding to Modi’s peace overtures.
“PM Modi reached out to Pakistan, went to Lahore, but then Pathankot happened. Home minister Rajnath Singh also went to Islamabad. Unfortunately, Pakistan has repeatedly given up the chances to talk and resolve the issue of violence in Kashmir.
Fifty-seven-year-old Mehbooba, mother of two daughters and one of the few women politicians from Kashmir, said she asked Modi to put in place an institutionalised mechanism to address the issue. “I asked for reviving the reconciliation and resolution process, which was initiated by the then NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 2002 and 2005,” she said.
It was the brushing of issues under the carpet, as in 2008 and 2010, that has resulted in the current unrest, Mehbooba said. “The country’s political leadership must commit itself to address all dimensions of the problem in a manner that balances and promotes enduring political and economic stability in the state and the region,” she said.
She expressed confidence that the escalating tensions would not derail the scheduled South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit and the PM’s proposed visit to Islamabad.
“The coalition government will seek to support and strengthen the approach and initiatives taken by the government to create a reconciliatory environment and build stakes for all for peace and development within the subcontinent,” she said, while reading a passage from the joint PDP-BJP document.
She also appealed to all political parties to help resolve the problems and not make the state a discussion point during their election campaigns. An “all-party delegation will visit the state soon to reach out to the people,” she said.
Mehbooba, who single handily built the edifice of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to challenge the monopoly of mainstream National Conference (NC) said the Agenda of Alliance enacted between her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the Prime Minister has a commitment to normalise the relationship with Pakistan.
She said the intra and inter-state confidence building measures (CBMs) initiated during Vajpayee era had helped transform the situation in the region. “We shall have to pick up the threads from where we left in 2005 and revive the reconciliation and resolution process with fresh resolve,” she said. She reiterated that only Modi with a massive mandate can revive the process.
Giving details of her meeting with the prime minister, Mehbooba said she outlined a three-pronged action plan before the Prime Minister that included involvement of separatists and Pakistan in substantive dialogue, to work out a solution to the problem in light of the contemporary geo-political realities. But she refused to divulge further details.
She said an ‘All Party Delegation’ will be visiting the State soon to reach-out to the people “and I hope they will meet different shades of political opinion to elicit their views on how to find a way out of the present imbroglio.” The chief minister maintained that parties, cutting across the divide, including the Hurriyat leaders shall have to come forward and help in saving innocent lives as also engage in a meaningful dialogue process for the peaceful resolution of the issue.
“The country’s political leadership must commit itself to address all the dimensions of the problem in a manner that balances and promotes enduring political and economic stability in the state and the region,” she said, adding whether it is the Working Group recommendations, reports of All Party Delegations or recommendations of Interlocutors, there has been, unfortunately, no follow-up on the same resulting in cynicism and alienation in Kashmir, especially among the youth. “I hope the current situation, unlike the past, could be used as an opportunity to reach out to the people in Jammu and Kashmir through tangible confidence building initiatives and provide the much-needed healing touch to them to tide over the trust-deficit,” she said.