KL NEWS NETWORK
Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti Saturday said her government is committed to revoke the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) from the state which will pave way for doing away with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“But if I say that AFSPA will be revoked in four days, like Omar Abdullah did in 2011, it will be an embarrassment for me. We are taking measures to fulfil all the promises made by the PDP-BJP coalition government to the people of Jammu and Kashmir through a step-by-step approach,” she said.
Maintaining that she will be looking out to the entire house for support and guidance, Ms Mehbooba said; “I know trying to run a government in a sensitive state like J&K in isolation and in disrespect of opposition can have very serious consequences as we have experienced in the past.”
Ms Mehbooba said she is standing in the House at a place where Kashmir’s most “towering” political leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and her father used to be in the past.
“I see myself as a very small person in front of these political stalwarts and had never imagined that I would have to put on their role at some point in time in my life,” she said adding, “I am taking upon myself this daunting task only to accomplish the vision of my father and in this endeavour of hope I don’t feel alone. My own party, my allies and I hope even my political opponents will be the support system for me that I value.”
The Chief Minister said it is time to define what all of us want Jammu and Kashmir to look like 20 years from now. “Our vision for J&K is to make its people equitable stakeholders in the economic progress unfolding in the world around them. “We have to be equitable stakeholders in the new and prosperous era that our country is witnessing,” she said.
Omar Abdullah (KL Image c: Bilal Bahadur)
Ms Mehbooba said it is of utmost importance that ‘Kashmir Policy’ should not be based on strategic considerations alone but on the ideals of binding the individuals to the nation by addressing their genuine concerns and aspirations.
“We all know history and don’t need to go over it again. I believe in looking forward to solutions rather than be bogged down by the weight of an unpleasant past. We don’t have to invent solution to the state’s problems, we have only to keep our minds free and eyes open to discover the same,” she said adding, “If we were to base our Kashmir policy on the ideological values of democracy, rule of law and tolerance, which have been the defining strength of India, we will be expanding the constituency of peace in the State at the micro level of individuals as well as institutions,” she asserted.
Ms Mehbooba said, “it is perhaps for the first time since independence that national consensus on Jammu and Kashmir has become possible and even BJP is now committed through its ‘Agenda of Alliance’ with PDP to protect and safeguard J&K’s special status.”
“The special status of J&K can in fact become the model for a viable federal structure for the whole country in the long run,” she maintained.
Ms Mehbooba said the people of the state have also now realised that they are the masters who can elect the governments of their choice and there is no hegemony of any individual or party.
“Responding to the innermost yearning of the people for peace with dignity, it is our collective responsibility to get the state back on course and leap forward to an era of development and prosperity,” she said and added that the violent means have neither served any purpose in the past nor are such means going to serve any purpose in the future. “I urge such youth who resort to violent means to shun the path of violence and live a purposeful life,” she said.
Hailing J&K’s deep-rooted secular ethos, the Chief Minister said Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed many upheavals in the arenas of politics and religion which could not make any significant change in the society because of the deep-rooted pluralism in the state.
“However, the biggest failure of leaders at the Union Government and the state has been that they couldn’t connect Jammu region with Kashmir Valley because of which when we talk of AIIMS in Kashmir and IIT in Jammu, it divides the state. But we share common interests and we all want peace and prosperity of our state,” she said.
Charging the opposition of belittling the recent decisions of the government for woman welfare, the Chief Minister said: “I and my sisters have the experience of living an ordinary life. I know what women face on the streets, in buses and other public places. If the small problems of our women are resolved, they should be encouraged. Separate buses for women and women police stations should give them a sense of security,” she said.