KL NEWS NETWORK
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti Saturday said the Kashmir issue could be best resolved through former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy of accommodating Kashmiris and involving Pakistan.
Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Mehbooba said, “there is no alternative to Vajpayee’s approach of reaching out to Pakistan, adding that she expected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to follow a similar approach in the larger interest of peace and stability in the region.”
A statement of her speech at the event issued by her party quoting Mehbooba said, “Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed wants to take the peace and resolution process started in the Vajpayee era to its logical conclusion. Whatever my father had started during Vajpayee’s time and then it was taken forward by Dr Manmohan Singh, everything was, unfortunately, put on the backburner.” “This seems to have led to triggering of fresh wave of alienation in Kashmir.”
Asked if she thought PM Modi would follow, Vajpayee’s approach, she said: “He’s coming around.”
Welcoming External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj’s proposed visit to Pakistan, Mehbooba said, “this could mark a new beginning on reviving the peace and reconciliation process in the region.”
She indicated that there “could not be a solution to the Kashmir issue that involved any change of borders or exchange of territory”. “The problem of Kashmir can no longer be seen through the prism of security and the central government has to be ‘more humane’ while dealing with the issue cautiously,” she said adding, “the country needs to invest in Kashmir’s peace and ‘own and acknowledge’ the pain and suffering of the Kashmiris. The ordinary people of India need to participate in hand holding with Kashmiris.”
“When you talk of Jammu and Kashmir being an integral part of India, you need to go beyond the ownership of land,” she said, adding that Kashmiris should not be given to feel that their dignity is being undermined.
Mehbooba said as far as Article-370 is concerned, there should be no fiddling with it. The Constitutional provision, that grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, “only strengthens the bond with India,” she said.
“The first point of her party’s ‘Agenda of Alliance’ with the BJP is that there will be no fiddling with Article 370,” she said.
“If Kashmiris chose to be a part of democratic and secular India (in 1947), we need to be given something in return. We need to be treated special,” Mehbooba said. “If you give someone something, to snatch it away slowly is like stealing. Article 370 only strengthens the bond with India,” she added.
On Beef Issue
Mehbooba said people have nothing to eat and “you ask me what meat to eat!” People have shown what they want. They don’t want a meat debate. The Bihar polls have done a great job in politics for India.
On Intolerance Debate
Mehbooba said, “what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places is that the fringe elements are misusing the name of Islam.” “And in our country, there are fringe elements who are misusing the name of Hinduism. And they also compare it with nationalism, which is worse,” she said adding if you ask me to pick up a quality of Hinduism, it is tolerance. “And our country is known for tolerance.”
She said it was important for the Union government to deal with such fringe elements “who are misusing the name of Hinduism and comparing it to nationalism”.
“ISIS is doing everything which goes against the basic tenets of Islam. “I don’t think Kashmiris will follow what ISIS stands for. ISIS stands for murder, rapes, plundering. How can this be Islam? Islam is the total antithesis of what they are doing,” she said.
Mehbooba, however, blamed the rise of the IS on the military campaigns waged by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, which had created a “feeling of victimhood” among Muslims. “It is important for the world community not to blame Muslims for the actions of the IS,” she added.
“Indian Muslims need to be saluted. They didn’t come to Kashmir – people came from all over and picked up guns but not Indian Muslims. We shouldn’t be so influenced by the IS that we start suspecting all Muslims,” she said.
On Media’s Projection of Kashmir
“Showing youngsters with Pakistani flag has become old-fashioned in Kashmir. So now they are shown with ISIS flags. Those youngsters don’t even know what they are doing. The media needs to introspect. No one shows August 15 celebrations in Kashmir,” she said.
On Indo-Pak Cricket
Mehbooba said; “When cross-border firing was going on in J&K, a few months back and retired army officers were fighting with each other (on television channels) we were still importing onions through Wagah border. “Nobody said we shouldn’t import onions. At that time, we needed onions and we imported cheap onions from Pakistan. What’s the problem with playing cricket? After all it is only a game and that also a highly popular game in the subcontinent,” she said.