Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Thursday met the Prime Minister and urged Dr Manmohan Singh to refocus on J&K to resume forward movement on its resolution and restoration of trust.
In an hour long meeting the two leaders discussed a wide range of subjects to review the situation in the state and developments in the region that could have a bearing on it. According to statement the meeting was held at the instance of Dr Singh who had invited Mufti for discussions in response to a letter which Mufti had written to the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru.
The statement said that Mufti apprised the Prime Minister of the highly negative fallout of the hanging of Afzal and the insensitive manner in which he was sent to gallows without even letting his family have a mandatory last meeting with him.
“He told Dr Singh how the entire issue had adversely impacted the people and added to the trust deficit between Kashmir and rest of the country that had very painstakingly been reduced to some extent after 2002,” the statement said.
Impressing upon the Prime Minister the need to prevent erosion of democratic institutions in the state Mufti told him how the summary rejection of the demand for return of Afzal Guru’s mortal remains even while the state Assembly was still discussing it came as a serious setback to its credibility. He told the Dr Singh if democratic institutions like the assembly continued to face such trivialisation any forward movement in restoring people’s confidence in them would become impossible. The statement added.
Mufti told the Prime Minister how it was important that the electoral process in the state not only remained clean and unbiased but that it should look so as well. He told Dr Singh that while Atal Behari Vajpayee had ensured that his commitment to hold free and fair elections in 2002 was fulfilled but same could unfortunately not be said about the 2008 elections when manipulations in many constituencies affected the results and clouded the credibility of electoral process once again. He said the managed results in those elections had impacted the situation adversely and ever since the government that followed took office all the immense investment in peace and development in the state made by Dr Singh himself had almost evaporated. He urged the prime minister to ensure free and fair elections whenever these are held as a primary requisite for taking forward the peace process as restoration of faith in democratic institutions was essential for any initiatives on internal front to succeed.
According to the statement Mufti told the prime minister it was important to ensure a full-fledged multi tier democratic system in place in the state from the village to state level to empower the people in shaping their destinies. “Unfortunately that was not happening in absence of the empowerment of these institutions” he told the PM.
The two leaders according to the press release also discussed the external dimension of the problem of Jammu and Kashmir with particular reference to the need for implementation of bilateral decisions with Pakistan on expanding the scope of travel and trade across LOC. Mufti told the prime minister that the decisions to expand the facility of LOC travel beyond divided families, increasing bus frequency and reopening of the Kargil Skardu link needed to be speeded up, besides other measures in accordance with their shared vision for future. While looking forward to the outcome of the elections in Pakistan the two leaders shared the optimism about increased chances for revival of peace process with that country.