Drabu faces music for his speech to ambassadors, PDP, NC, JKLF reacts strongly

SRINAGAR: J&K Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu is now facing the music from different sides including his party for his statement that the Kashmir should not be seen as the “political issue only”. His party has asked him to retract the statement and the JKLF said it was a distortion of the historical facts aimed at pleasing his masters.

Party Reacts

Advising senior party leaders to be “careful in their statements and observations while commenting on the basic political philosophy and core agenda of the party”, senior VP PDP Sartaj Madni asked Dr Drabu to “retract the statement immediately if it has been reported correctly in the media.”

vice president and senior leader PDP, Sartaj Madni

“It is unfortunate that the problem is seen by some forces in the sub-continent as a mere management assignment to contain peoples’ aspirations and the resolution commitment is being aimlessly undermined,” Madni’s statement said. “PDP feels highly perturbed at the obvious lack of urgency in resolving this issue and reiterates its commitment to uphold Party’s stated objectives in which the resolution of the political issue has a paramount importance.”

Insisting that soon after its formation, the PDP leadership took forward the Kashmir case and soon emerged as hope. “The party discerned the imperative of history to address the innermost yearning for resolution of Kashmir issue with peace with dignity,” the statement said.  “Those were times when there was all round despair in the state and people were suffering from a feeling of deep helplessness, strong alienation, cynical aloofness and complete lack of faith in democratic institutions and the political process.” PDP, he said, changed the discourse through relentless struggle and clarity in objectives.

“Madni affirmed that times now are of critical importance as India and Pakistan are in a denial mode and Jammu and Kashmir state is entangled in conflict and confrontation,” the statement said. “PDP realizes how important it is to reemphasise the struggle and how obligatory it becomes to refer to Party’s agenda without any ambiguity or sense of despair.”

Madni said the Party will follow its agenda with added vigour and sincerity. “Any impression of the political issue getting under the carpet can have a very negative impact and can spin the situation into another cycle of destabilisation in the region,” he said. “In such a scenario the sufferings of the state’s people will immensely compound and the upcoming generation will move out of the space of reconciliation.”

Madni said the period of reconciliation and dialogue from 2002-2005 has been the significant march forward on the political front and it was then that the state witnessed to its joy and relief ceasefire across LOC. India and Pakistan took moves to liberate the people from the mentality of siege. He said there was a compelling need to make that freedom movement easier, more comprehensive and meaningful, which ironically did not happen and state continued reels under spells of the vicious circle of violence.

Madni said after the fractured election mandate of 2014 PDP entered into Governance Alliance based on the agreement and agenda which is an effort towards seeking a national reconciliation on J&K, besides catalysing reconciliation and confidence building within and across the Line of Control (LoC).

Madni said PDP is committed to pushing its agenda for peaceful and dignified resolution of the Kashmir problem which alone will lessen the tension in the region and release huge financial resources of the two countries for the development of their economies. He said the Party firmly believes that everyone one of us must come out of shells of our own making and should embark together in the common journey and quest for honour, peace and prosperity as this has been the avowed objective of PDP ever since its formation and growth.

NC’s Question Paper

National Conference on Sunday said PDP’s declaration that Kashmir was not a political issue but a social issue was a shocking and shameful U-turn by the Party which, for years, sought support and votes primarily to help in the resolution of the political issue that has claimed thousands of lives and pushed the State into the throes of instability and suffering.

“Drabu’s declaration that Kashmir was apparently not a ‘political issue’ but a ‘social issue’ while speaking at an event in Delhi was a serious development that called into question the very basis of PDP’s political over the years and the promises it had been making to the people of the State,” NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar told a news conference.

NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar with Nasir Sogami and Junaid Azim Mattu

Sagar, the party General Secretary, suggested Mehbooba Mufti to clarify the questions: (1) If J&K is not a political issue then what is the basis of the suffering and conflict in the State? (2) Why have thousands of people lost their lives if Kashmir is not a political issue? Did they lose their lives to a social issue? (3) India and Pakistan have fought four wars over Kashmir. In PDP’s opinion, what is the cause of these wars and of confrontation between two countries if Kashmir is not a political issue? (4) Is this a formal abandonment of the party’s “Self Rule” document? (5) Why did the party stress on dialogue and resolution in its now abandoned ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ if the party believes Kashmir is not a political issue but a social issue? (6) PDP has time and again used the rhetoric of aspiring to become the bridge between New Delhi and Islamabad. If there is no political issue – what gap does PDP want to bridge? (7) Why did the Central Government appoint an interlocutor if PDP believes Kashmir is not a political issue?

“If PDP thinks that Kashmir is not a ‘political issue’ but is according to them a ‘social issue’, the very basis of the politics of PDP and that of its founder Late Mufti Sahab comes into question,” Sagar said. “Till today we were led to believe that PDP’s basis was the resolution of the political issue and its rhetorical advocacy for dialogue was a cornerstone of its narrative. Today, the same party suddenly declares that Kashmir is not a political issue and the problems we are facing are not any different from those being faced by people outside Kashmir. We condemn this statement in the strongest of terms as it reeks of fallacy, delusion and indicates an enormous ideological U-turn for the party.”

Sagar asked Chief Minister to clarify if this was the final and formal abandonment of the party’s ‘Self Rule’ document which till now was being portrayed as the party’s supreme vision document.

“First the PDP violated the mandate of 2014 by entering into an opportunistic alliance with a party it had sought votes against and today the same party finally lets the cat out of the bag by declaring everything it stood for till now was apparently akin to ‘barking up the wrong tree’ as said by Dr Haseeb Drabu. We want to ask the Chief Minister and the PDP President if Kashmir is not a political issue then why have thousands of people lost their lives and why does the State continue to be mired by instability, violence and lack of peace and normalcy? Why did you promise the people that your party would work towards helping in resolving the political issue when you don’t even consider the issue to be political to start with?”, the NC General Secretary asked.

NC Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani hit out at the PDP for fooling the people of the State for almost two decades by seeking their personal political empowerment by exploiting the political sentiment that they are now openly ridiculing.

“We remember the slogans of dual-currency and self-rule propagated and advocated by the same party that is now denying the existence of the political sentiment in the State,” Sogami said. “This is a classic example of PDP’s treacherous and deceitful politics – the brunt of which is being borne by the people of the State today as the situation in Kashmir continues to deteriorate. The Chief Minister is answerable to the people over this huge U-turn and must be held to account for this revelation.”

The NC Provincial President said PDP’s identity crisis had reached a level where the party seemed to be on the brink of an ideological implosion and these statements indicate the seriousness of this crisis.

“These statements reveal only what National Conference has been saying all along about PDP and its politics – this is a party without an ideology and is solely guided by its own political empowerment and for that it is willing to barter the rights, sentiments, future and honour of the State and its people” Sogami was quoted saying.

JKLF Reacts

In a reaction issued in Srinagar to media, the JKLF said the minister’s statement was “the classic example of a person trying to act like a lawyer in politics who has no ideology, faith and ethics but is always ready to represent his clients’ wishes and whims.”

Attributed to the JKLF chairman, the statement said the “absurd statements in a pursuit to distort historical facts can only be termed as ignorance.” People like him, the statement said; want to prove their loyalty to their masters in Delhi and Nagpur by issuing such statements but facts don’t change by mincing words and coining new terms.

JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yaseen Malik (File Image: Bilal Bahadur)

JKLF chairman said that right from 1947, history of Jammu Kashmir has witnessed venal people who used freedom movement as a launching pad for gaining access to power politics and thus sold out their conscience for petty gains. It talked about various meetings between Drabu and Malik in Delhi after which he joined JKLF and started working on the economic blueprint of an independent Kashmir.

Later, the statement said, Drabu joined JKLF and joined Indian political system. “Drabu also joined hands with RSS and is serving as the main link between PDP and Nagpur now and is delivering statements trying to hoodwink international opinion on Jammu Kashmir,” the party said.“

Drabu is saying that everyone who thinks Kashmir is a political problem is a fool,” the statement said. “He is suggesting that if people of Kashmir whom he is abusing of having identity crisis by coining terms like “a society in search for itself” is provided with enough bribes in form of investments and economy they will shun their resistance and solution will arrive.”

What Drabu said?

Delivering his keynote speech at an event Kashmir: the way forward in Delhi Friday night, Drabu has asked the people to “introspect” over the nature and origins of the situation in J&K and how it can be resolved.

The PHD Chamber hosts one of its Signature Event for the international Community, Ambassadors Meet, where the theme opted “Kashmir The Way Forward” This was the much-needed interface between J&K and Rest of the world.

“We need to talk to ourselves before we talk to others and this must happen nationally as well,” he said.

The PDP leader said there was a dire need to include “concerns” of the people of the state and not to get lost in the “forest of symbols”.

“Don’t see J&K as a conflict state and a political issue, it is a society which has social issues right now. We are trying to find our own space and we are going through a process which many other countries are also going through,” Drabu was quoted saying. “It (J&K) is not a political issue as far as I can see. They have been barking up the wrong tree for the last 50 or 70 years by talking about the politics of it, that the political situation has never improved.”

“We seriously need to look at in terms of how it is a society that is in search for itself,” he said at the event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event was attended by around 130 ambassadors, government officials and business leaders.

The PHD Chamber hosts one of its Signature Event for the international Community, Ambassadors Meet, where the theme opted “Kashmir The Way Forward” This was the much-needed interface between J&K and Rest of the world.

Asking potential investors to see J&K as a destination, Drabu said: “We may be living unhappy lives. Our history may be torturous, but we run profitable businesses…We have done our bit, but somehow the world bypassed us or we let it bypass us and we got into a bit of a quandary.” That quandary, he said, needs to be resolved in some way for us to be able to catch up with the rest of the world.

“You will find some interesting opportunities where you will not just make money, but also have a lot of fun and will enjoy themselves,” Drabu told investors.

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