Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti has said that some progress was made in improving relations between India and Pakistan and bringing Kashmir into the process only when NC was marginalized for a few years after 2002.
According to a statement issued to KNS, while addressing various roadside meetings in Homshalibug segment of Anantanag parliamentary constituency, Mehbooba said it is no wonder that the people of the state miss those years when everything positive seemed to be happening between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. “There is a very obvious yearning for revival of that process which had brought relief to the people internally and had reduced tensions between India and Pakistan,” she said.
Mehbooba said for the first time since independence there were serious and constructive moves to lift the siege around Jammu and Kashmir that had imprisoned it after partition by closing all traditional routes of the state. She said it is true that the opening of Srinagar-Muzzafarabad and Poonch-Rawlakoot roads has not attained its full potential yet because of lack of follow up but in doing so India and Pakistan have conceded major principles in connecting the people across the Line of Control (LoC) through travel and trade.
She said while NC had throughout its history used opening of Rawalpindi road as slogan to seek votes but Mufti Mohammad Sayeed facilitated it without making any noise or exploiting anybody sentiments. She said Mufti was clear about his agenda and pursued it with focus and achieved results in a brief period which laid foundation for future progress that was unfortunately reversed by the change in government.
The PDP chief said the fact that the two countries have accepted that there is no requirement of passport, visa or custom duty for travel and trade across the LoC lays the foundation for an economic free zone in the region. She said a decisive vote for PDP in the Lok Sabha elections would enable the party to effectively pursue the goal of carrying forward this process to the logical end.
Mehbooba said while the NC as partners of the BJP in the NDA government recommended bombing of Pakistan the PDP quietly changed the entire narrative and brought peace and friendship into the discourse. “Why did Vajpayee initiative wait for change in J&K which ousted NC from the power for a while even though they were allies,” Mehbooba asked and said it was because the NC’s purpose for alliance was power for Dr Farooq Abdullah and his son. On the other hand Mufti Mohammad Sayeed handled both NDA and UPA wisely and brought relief to his people in the shape of diplomatic initiatives, economic revival and administrative discipline.
The PDP president said for once after 2003 initiative there were exchanges of journalists and businessmen across the LoC. Trading ties were established, Hurriyat leaders visited Pakistan through the LoC route and even elected politicians including Omar Abdullah could visit that country, besides many other delegations. She said it is not difficult to revive that process but for that the people will have to strengthen the hands of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his party. She said NC has been misleading the people since 1947 under various garbs promising ‘Raishumari’, ‘Autonomy’ and opening of Rawalpindi road but they have not been able to deliver on any promise and return to the voters with same stories at the election time. “We have heard these tails for long now but people are in no mood to let NC off the hook this time as it has been in power both in the state and in the Centre with disastrous results for Kashmir.
Mehbooba said the performance of PDP and NC both on internal and external fronts is before the people and they are the best judges. “It is the people who have to decide whether they want to revive the peace and the atmosphere of hope PDP had generated or want to continue with NC’s misrule, corruption and atrocities,” she said.
Mehbooba said NC has exploited everybody including New Delhi and Pakistan. It is part of the history that NC benefited from Pakistan when it ran the first secessionist movement under the banner of ‘Raishumari’ which continues to take its toll till today. When it joined New Delhi and revived its connections there it turned against Pakistan and Kashmir advocating bombing of Pakistan and ‘Goli Maro’ to Kashmir which has been its standard policy in the state.