Need Pakistan’s positive contribution to open roads in Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Friday batted for revival of talks with Pakistan for resolving the Kashmir issue but said the neighbour’s positive contribution is very necessary to “open closed roads” in the state. Speaking at a public event here, she also said that the recent NIA raids and arrest of separatists leaders in the Kashmir Valley was a temporary measure and not a solution to address the real problem.
“The PDP-BJP alliance has been on the belief and hope that we will be able to revive the magic of (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee ji’s time… Vajpayee ji did it,” she said in her keynote address at the ‘Understanding Kashmir’ session hosted by social group BRIEF.
Citing the Lahore declaration in which Pakistan had assured that it will not allow its land to be used against anti-India activities, Mehbooba said, “We have to revive that… in spite of Kargil and attack on the Parliament house…”
“We have had some setbacks but we need to revive it, if we want that the closed roads in Jammu and Kashmir open, then Pakistan’s positive contribution is very necessary,” she said.
She said the idea of ‘azadi’ in the minds of people of the state needs to be replaced with something else and drew attention to the 2005 working groups constituted to address the internal dimensions of the Kashmir issue.
“The working group reports (on Kashmir) have been thrown in the waste basket. We are not doing anything about that,” she said.
When asked about the recent crackdown of the National Investigation Agency against separatist leaders in the Kashmir Valley, Mehbooba said such acts do not give a long-lasting solution.
“Whatever happened with the NIA is an administrative measure. Such measures can just contain a situation, they don’t address the real problem,” she said.
She said such crackdowns have not resolved the problem, adding “So we need to address the problem and real problem is still there.” While Mehbooba lauded the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she, at the same time, urged the Centre to do more to ease the situation in her state.
“I feel Modiji is the man of the moment and he has the potential to rise and become the man of history. His leadership is an asset which needs to be harnessed… and take Kashmir out of this present mess,” she said.
She expressed her sadness and concern over the tinkering with the Article 35A, that accords special rights and privileges to the natives of Jammu & Kashmir, and that its constitutional validity has been challenged in the Supreme Court by way of a PIL.
“Who is doing it? Why are they doing it?… The separatists’ agenda is different and it is totally secession. But you are weakening those powers which are Indian and trust India and participate in elections (by challenging the Article 35A),” she said and warned if there is an alteration in the special status of the state there could be a revolt.
“If any attempt is made… India will not get a shoulder to carry its national flag in the state,” she said.
“This is one of the problem,” she said stressing that both the articles 370 and 35A are very dear to the state and they help preserve her state’s unique identity.
The chief minister was critical of some television news channel anchors saying that they were trying to project Kashmir in a bad light.
“I am sorry to say that this India, that the anchors are trying to project, is not what India is about and that is not the India I know,” she said as she stated that few channels were showing Kashmiris in a “bad light.”
She said when she sees the retired ‘beard-wallahs’ from the other side (Pakistan) and ‘mooch-wallahs’ from this side screaming at the top of their lungs on television news channels, she feels they are taking out their “frustrations” about so many wars that the two countries saw.