November 2002 News

Unilateral ceasefire has no meaning: Mufti

10 November 2002
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed describes the beginning of his innings as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir as a ''turning point'' in the history of the state. He sees an opportunity in the days to come to prove that good governance matters, and pays and is confident his government will last out its full term. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, he dismisses talk that he is soft on militants and points out that much of what he has said on the issue was brought up earlier by the Prime Minister and government officials. Excerpts from his interview How do you feel after being in the CMís chair for almost a week now? It is a big challenge and opportunity. I see it as a turning point in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. I want to make a difference with good governance and that is my primary aim. It is said that becoming Chief Minister was your lifeís ambition. What do you have to say? It is not correct. It is baseless. I have never bothered about the chair. I have seen high office (as Union Home Minister). There were many occasions in the past when I could have become chief minister. There were days of conflict between G.M. Sadiq and Mir Qasim. I was a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi Government. I was the chairman of the Janata Dal Parliamentary Board. These things have not bothered me. Indiraji once asked me why I opposed Sheikh Abdullah. I told her when I am in opposition, my job is to oppose and criticise. My job in the opposition is not to knock at doors and seek favours but to raise issues of the people. I stood my ground. Tell me, if there is any one who has stood his ground like me in Jammu and Kashmir. Becoming chief minister was not my dream. Then what exactly have you achieved? I have provided an alternative. I had no ill-will against Sheikh Abdullah. As far as Farooq Abdullah is concerned, I have met him. He is a pleasing personality. But then, there are differences of policies and programmes. How are you going to facilitate the dialogue process? We have already taken measures to create an atmosphere for that. POTA is not going to be used. The role of the Special Operations Group of the state police is going to be changed. A multi-pronged strategy has to be adopted to fight militancy. We are going to take care of the victims of militancy. If someone is a militant and is killed, what is the fault of his wife or children. We have to take care of their education and socio-economic problems. Will you be asking for a unilateral cease-fire during Ramzan? Why should I? You were reported in the media as saying so. That was put out of context. What I said was that unilateral cease-fire has no meaning unless it is reciprocated and respected. It cannot be a one-way traffic. You said that the All Parties Hurriyat Conference is yet to prove its representative character. Yes, I said so because they did not prove it. They had an opportunity in the elections. They did not avail (of) it. Will you start talking to the Hurriyat leaders? Why should I? Let them talk to Government of India. I would be a facilitator. Let the Government also talk to the elected representatives and also other sections of people. We have already taken measures as I have listed those before. You are regarded as being soft on militants. That is the double talk of the BJP that is trying to run down our ally, the Congress. Didnít Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee say from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day that we have committed mistakes in Kashmir in the past? Didnít Union Home Secretary travel to Srinagar to hold talks with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in August 2000 after the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen announced cease-fire? Didnít Prime Minister announce a unilateral Ramzan cease-fire two years ago? Didnít he appoint K. C. Pant to hold talks with the people and separatists in Kashmir. If I am saying the same thing, what is wrong with it? There was a policy of sticks for 14 years and rarely carrots were offered. Now there will be a change and a consensus. My effort is to evolve a consensus not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also at the national level. Farooq Abdullah could have done that. But he didnít do that. Now I am going to do it. On the face of it, your words sound promising but the numbers are fragile. I can tell you, this is going to be the most stable government in Jammu and Kashmir. It is not the game of numbers. It is the verdict of the people of the state that matters and that gives stability to the government. There are fears there will be a witch-hunt of your political rivals. Let me assure you that there will be no victimisation. There will be no witch-hunt. I am not going to dig into the past and start hounding people. Not at all. But we will not allow anyone to tamper with the system. Even if someone sitting on my right hand side is found guilty of doing anything wrong, he will face the consequences. There is going to be authority with accountability. There are apprehensions that you would undertake a massive administrative and police reshuffle. Have I done that? There is the same set of people. We have to take work from them in a proper fashion. I have already said that there would be no witch- hunt or victimisation. Why is your Common Minimum Programme silent on autonomy? You cannot put the cart before the horse. Once the negotiations start, letís see what emerges. If autonomy is the only thing in the kitty, why should it be said that autonomy is there to be offered? Let there be talks first. You are saying that you bear no ill will towards the Abdullahs. How would you justify engineering the dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah government in 1984 and the installation of the Ghulam Mohammad Shah government? Wasnít that an undemocratic act as part of your plans to become chief minister? On hindsight, I think it was the right thing to do. Farooq was roaming with Shabana Azmi on a motorbike, while governance was suffering. Those NC men who joined to form the G.M. Shah government, are described as traitors. But the fact of the matter is that they worked with sincerity and honesty. Look at Ghulam Hassan Mir (Housing Minister in the new government). He won by 20,000 votes. Hakim Yasin won, Dillwar Mir won, so did Mehboob Beg. They were elected because they have worked. My mantra is that (good) governance pays. There are numerous challenges. How are you going to overcome those? My first and top most priority is to provide a clean administration. There are many problems that can be resolved by good governance. My commitment is to give a transparent and accountable government. I know that people have many problems and we will address their problems one by one. You take it from me that results will soon be known to the people. How are you going to politically manage the coalition partners? (Through the) Common Minimum Programme. We are going to implement it in letter and spirit. All coalition partners are in agreement and there is no deviation from the CMP.

 

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