Agenda holy document, will bring J&K out of morass: CM

Sanjeev Pargal

Excelsior Rakesh

JAMMU, Jan 10: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today that Agenda of Alliance reached between PDP-BJP coalition Government is a “holy document”, which is being discussed and debated not only within Jammu and Kashmir but across the country by various political parties and added that all political parties should agree on its implementation.
“The Agenda of Alliance is concise document of all major reports and recommendations made on Jammu and Kashmir including Working Groups and various other documents. It has called for dialogue with all stakeholders… good relations between India and Pakistan… maintaining status quo on Article 370…steps for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in due course of time…opening of new cross-LoC routes…settlement of issues of refugees etc,’’ Mehbooba said in her half an hour reply on marathon debate on Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s Address in the Legislative Assembly this afternoon. The Motion of Thanks was passed by the voice vote in the Assembly.
After the Chief Minister’s reply, National Conference MLA and former Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar pressed his amendment on setting up of Judicial Commission to probe 2016 summer unrest killings. The amendment was rejected after which entire opposition including, NC, Congress and CPM members including former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah staged walk-out in the Assembly.
Asserting that Agenda of Alliance is “holy document’’ of what Opposition has been calling “unholy alliance’’ (of PDP and BJP), Mehbooba said it was an opportunity for all political parties to unite to bring Jammu and Kashmir out of the present morass.
“We should sit together and help in implementation of the Agenda of Alliance,’’ she said and asked: “why can’t we (all political parties) agree on at least one issue-the Agenda of Alliance-which is solution to all problems’’?
Mehbooba said her late father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed could have stitched alliance within 24 hours and become the Chief Minister but he always treaded the tough path and took bold decisions.
Justifying the PDP’s alliance with the BJP, she said the late Mufti had logic as to why he was doing so.
“Mufti aligned with the BJP as this is the party, which could take bold decision (on resolution of Kashmir problem and relations with Pakistan). The alliance was aimed at maintaining unity of Jammu and Kashmir, giving respect to mandate of the people and bringing the State out of the morass,” the Chief Minister said.
She said it was the Congress, which sent National Conference leader (Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah) to jail in 1953 but then both parties forged an alliance in 1975. The remarks were aimed at taking a dig at NC and Congress, which had been describing PDP-BJP alliance as unholy.
Recalling that Dr Manmohan Singh didn’t visit Pakistan for his full 10-year term though he had many a times expressed desire to visit Lahore to see his house, Mehbooba said Narendra Modi took the bold step of visiting the wedding ceremony of the granddaughter of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief but then Pathankot and Uri happened. And many parties started questioning the Prime Minister’s visit to Pakistan.
“But we are a big country. We lose by confrontation. We still believe we have to live together. Historically and geographically, India and Pakistan are united. Jammu and Kashmir would serve as bridge of peace between the two nations and not a ring of war,” she added.
Mehbooba said technically Jammu and Kashmir has fully integrated with India and there was need now for “emotional integration” of the people of the State with rest of the country.
Calling upon the opposition parties not to play politics on the issue of West Pakistani refugees, the Chief Minister said: “we should look into their problems on humanitarian grounds”.
She said the Government was committed to one time financial package and better livelihood facilities to the West Pakistani refugees.
“The Government of India wanted us to issue identity cards to West Pakistani refugees, who have settled here since 1947. We have just done that. This is not going to result into any kind of demographic change,’’ the Chief Minister said, adding that “when we are looking towards larger solutions, we must not rake up minor issues’’.
Mehbooba called for opening of more trans-LoC routes in Jammu and Kashmir including Suchetgarh-Sialkot, Kargil-Askardu, Nowshera-Jhanghar and Kailash Mansarovar route in Leh for Mansarovar pilgrimage.
Referring to speech of some of the Opposition members, who claimed credit for package of refugees and colonies for Kashmiri Pandits, Mehbooba asked: “then why they created the entire trouble last summer’’?
She also took exception to some members calling Jammu as “insecure’’ saying thousands of people from the Kashmir valley especially students took shelter in Jammu during Kashmir unrest.
Asserting that attempts were made to create disturbances in Jammu region also during Kashmir unrest, Mehbooba lauded her BJP Cabinet colleagues, administration and the people for not falling into machinations of the vested interests and maintaining peace in the entire region.
Mehbooba strongly batted for complete “emotional and psychological” integration of the state with rest of the country, asserting that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is not a hurdle but a bridge in this direction.
“When the people of BJP talk of Article 370, they talk of technical integration. We have to make them understand that we also want that Jammu and Kashmir should fully integrate with India emotionally, technically. We are already a part of this country. Who can deny that,” she said.
“But have we emotionally joined that integration completely which we should have done emotionally and psychologically? No. But that is what is needed, in which (Article) 370 is not an impediment but 370 is a bridge which connects us,” said Mehbooba, who heads PDP.
Hailing the Indian democracy, she said her late father Mufti Sayeed had always believed in it and that was the reason that he had held the flag of mainstream political party (Congress) at an early age long back in 1960s.
“Today we have an opportunity to think about where to move ahead. I am hopeful, as we all say one thing, that an issue, a pain is there, a difficulty is there, solution to which has to be found, for which dialogue should be held.
“But before we speak about dialogue outside, we should ourselves disperse the fear we have. They (BJP) have fear of ‘self-rule’ and autonomy and we have fear that they (BJP) might abrogate Article 370 (which grants special status to the state),” said Mehbooba, who heads a coalition government of PDP and BJP.
She said both the parties were fearful of each other but the aim was the same, to see Jammu and Kashmir united, to see it prosper.
“We have faith in democracy of this country. We take oath of the Constitution of India and our own Constitution (of J&K), still there are so many doubts as they (BJP) feel that … J&K might slip out of their hands,” she said.
“The Constitution of India and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir have the capacity to accommodate the desires and wishes of the people on both sides of the divided Kashmir,” she said, adding, “We can fulfill their (Centre’s) aspirations as well, we can fulfill their dreams, but we have to first take out this fear from our hearts.”
Referring to the trouble witnessed in the valley over the last 5-6 months, she said there was a need for introspection.
“We all need to look within and see what we can do so that such a situation does not emerge in future, what role we can play to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, as (her father) Mufti Sahib had said that if somebody has a major role to play in resolving the issue, it is this Assembly,” she said.
Mehbooba said when her father, who held the flag of mainstream politics, spoke about ‘self-rule’, he was labelled as “anti-national”.
Turning to the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), she said the Working Group said that as the situation improves, decision should be taken on it.
“Whenever situation improves, we have to make a start from somewhere,” she said.
The Rangarajan Committee, she said, had recommended transfer of power projects to the state to make it financially viable. “We also said in ‘self-rule’ and everybody wants that too,” she said.
Mehbooba, who is heading a coalition government of PDP and BJP, admitted that during the last Assembly elections, she had spoken about keeping the saffron party away, fearing that Article 370 was in “danger”.
“I accept that I said so because, as I said, we all had apprehensions against each other and rightly or wrongly, BJP feels that abrogation of (Article) 370 can solve Kashmir issue. We have a different stand on this and when the mandate here was like BJP got majority in Jammu and we in Kashmir, to respect that mandate we had to take a decision (of alliance),” she said.
She said her father wanted to respect the mandate and keep the state united which was his conviction to bring Jammu and Kashmir out of this mess.
Mehbooba said that ever since PDP was formed, its aim was to make Jammu and Kashmir a bridge of friendship and peace between India and Pakistan but it has become a battleground.
Peace is possible only when the relations of both the countries are good, the Chief Minister added.
She said that despite several provocations, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had gone ahead with his peace initiatives. She was apparently referring to Kargil aggression by Pakistan and attack on Parliament by Pakistan-based terror groups.
“Modi ji told me that he wishes his Pakistani counterpart on his birthday and even wished him speedy recovery during his surgery, but it was followed by Pathankot and Uri (terror attacks)”, she said.
She said in a democracy, political parties question how these attacks happen but “I feel that the situation could not remain the same and slowly the situation would become normal”.
Both the countries have no other option but to hold dialogue, Mehbooba underscored and added that solution to all the problems is there in the Agenda of Alliance.