Need to make Pak, separatists part of solution: Mehbooba

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Dec 17: Former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said today that though Pakistan and separatists may be the part of problem (in Kashmir) but they have to be made part of resolution by engaging them (in the talks).
She was speaking at the Aaj Tak conclave in New Delhi.
“Whosoever is killed in Kashmir is ours. To stop bloodshed in the Valley, we need to hold talks. Pakistan and separatists have to be made part of resolution. We need to engage with them,” she said.
Saying that Pakistan has interference in Jammu and Kashmir to spoil situation, Mehbooba said: “We have to reconcile with Pakistan as our State is the worst sufferer. Imran Khan (the Pakistan Prime Minister) has offered talks, Why we have been saying no. Kashmiris are getting killed daily”.
Mehbooba said there was 60 percent voting in Jammu and Kashmir when her father late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had acknowledged Pakistan role in peaceful polling.
“Now when there is Pakistan interference, the turnout was just two percent,” she said in an apparent reference to low turnout in recently concluded Panchayat and Municipal elections in some parts of the Valley.
She recalled that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister went to Lahore though it was followed by Kargil and Parliament attack but still he ordered ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Pakistan is an important link to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir separatists, Pakistan and the Government of India had to reconcile. Let us open all routes. A Kashmiri can reach China within 18 hours if all routes are opened. What will be more freedom than this? Like Kartarpur corridor, let the two countries open Sharda Peeth route,” she said.
“If Imran is a proxy of the Pak army then this is the best time to talk. When Imran Khan says he is ready to talk, to open corridors, then I think Army is also on the same page…,” Mehbooba said.
She said the “best bargain” for India, vis-a-vis the Kashmir issue, was during the time when Pervez Musharraf was the President of Pakistan as during that time ceasefire was initiated at the border and the Muzaffarabad route was opened up.
“The talks could be beneficial now….Why should we not talk?” she asked.
The PDP leader also said her party will “join hands” with any political party that will support the “resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.”
“If we can join hands with the BJP, we can do so with anyone for resolution of the J-K issue,” she said.
Mufti said her People’s Democratic Party going with the BJP, during the last political regime in the state, was “suicidal” and that she was “disappointed” that this experiment to begin the political process in the state did not work.
Asked if she had any lessons to learn, Mufti replied in the negative.
“They (the BJP) didn’t teach me any lesson. I stood my ground…(in taking decisions). We experimented (through the PDP-BJP alliance) for the people of Kashmir but that did not work,” she said.
She said there was a huge difference between former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime and the current one under PM Narendra Modi.
“Vajpayee was spontaneous and down to earth…He never looked back or over his shoulder. He was a statesman. Today’s NDA is more focussed in winning elections,” Mehbooba said.
“God save! they have not given voting rights to cows,” she said in an apparent dig on the BJP.
Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is ours and it’s our responsibility to end bloodshed there, the former Chief Minister said talks can be held on this very issue with Pakistan and the neighbouring country can be asked to stop infiltration. “At least, a beginning should be made,” she asserted.
Mehbooba said the killing of militants won’t serve the purpose.
“A militant is killed but his idea remains alive. When a 15-year old boy is buried in the graveyard, a militant becomes an example. We need to stop this,” she said.
She added that militancy was under control from 2004-2008 because the Government had good terms with Pakistan.
“Jammu and Kashmir can become an example for SAARC nations. These countries can have their offices in Kashmir. This will create good atmosphere among the neighbouring countries,” Mehbooba said.
Noting that some organizations ask for pre-1947 and others for pre-1953 situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba said Indira Gandhi had stated that the clock can’t be reversed “but it’s not moving forward either. We must hold talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat Conference”.