Mahbooba Grabs Egypt Wave

Mahbooba Grabs Egypt Wave

12 February 2011
Rising Kashmir
Ishfaq Ahmad Shah

Srinagar: Peoples Democratic Party president and leader of the opposition Mahbooba Mufti Saturday asserted that a political resolution to Jammu and Kashmir rests with 'economic self-reliance, administrative powers and restoration of States strategic position'. Taking cue from the happenings that unfolded in Egypt, Mahbooba said: 'To me the meaning of Independence is changing the worldover. Independence means we should be economically self-reliant; there should be freedom to travel anywhere and more communication with the outside.' Asked to define her party's agenda regarding a political resolution of the Kashmir issue, she said, 'Economic self-reliance, administrative powers and restoration of strategic position of J-K, is to us a political solution for Kashmir.' Mahbooba, while announcing her party's programme to hold protest demonstration in Srinagar and Jammu on February 14 at a press conference at her Gupkar residence, said they will raise voice against the continuing arrest of youth and repression. 'At least 3000 youth are in custody. Employees are being suspended while the youth are asked to visit police station on weekly basis. This has to end and those detained should be released so that a conducive atmosphere is created,' she said. 'Peace needs to be given a chance but in Kashmir we are witnessing repression, arrests of youth and re-establishing of security force camps, which is against the popular demand of withdrawal of troops from the civilian areas. New RR, STF and CRPF camps are being set up at various places,' she added. The PDP chief said her party will protest to press for lifting of siege in both physical and economic terms. 'The Indus Water Treaty, signed between India and Pakistan over sharing of the river water in J-K, was causing a huge loss of Rs 50,000 crore to the State annually. Our water resources were compromised, power projects have been sold out and now the economic institutions are being handed over. We will fight to demand back what is ours,' she said. Mahbooba said that the border dividing Kashmir should be made irrelevant, and advocated for a joint advisory committee for free travel, trade and other processes. 'J-K will act as a bridge between India and Pakistan then. We would also like to suggest that the plan of SAARC countries to build close network with each other should start from Jammu and Kashmir. For a beginning, these countries should make J-K a free economic zone where the currency of all SAARC countries is valid.' She said her party will also act for restoration of old routes via Askardu, Gilgit and Yarkand. 'This route will join us with Central Asia, as journey through these routes has become easier after a highway has been built by China. Apart from external connectivity, we have to focus on internal connectivity like joining of Kishtiwar-Kokernag, Bandipora-Gurez areas,' she said, adding 'there is a need to open more routes across the LoC'. Stating that the situation in Egypt resembles with Kashmir, Mahbooba said, 'I congratulate the people of Egypt on their success for achieving their goal in peaceful manner. I would like to place my appreciation for the army for the role they played there. They acted to protect their own people,' she said. Flanked by party chief spokesman Nayeem Akhtar and senior leaders Muhammad Dilawar Mir and Iftikhar Ansari, she said, 'We have a similarity with Egypt as they were fighting for democracy and we are fighting inspite of democracy since past 63 years. The Kashmir issue is hanging for past six decades.' She said the development in that country would have a spillover effect in many other places as well. 'After 9-11, a collective voice had emerged against violence; and there was a transition in Kashmir as well. People started to choose ballot for bullet. This transition continued after 2002 and 2008 Assembly elections. However, the opportunity is being frittered away by the central leadership.' Comparing the last summer unrest in Kashmir with over two weeks of protests in Egypt, Mahbooba said lakhs of people had thronged the roads in that country seeking the ouster of the president. 'They were not alleged of being drug addicts and paid agents. But when our people are on roads demanding justice, they are being labelled as LeT militants, paid agents and now, recently, as drug addicts by the State Government.' Does it mean that our 70,000 youth who were out on the roads are drug addicts, she asked. 'Our own people are hell bent upon defaming our youth, she said. This has to end; otherwise a young kid who is being ruthlessly thrashed will turn into an atom bomb. Initially, the youth took to arms, then to stones and if things continue like this, they may take to other means,' she added


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