December 2017 News

Need To Lift Economic Siege From J&K: Mehbooba

16 December 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today batted for making Jammu and Kashmir a model State for SAARC cooperation and called for lifting 'economic siege' from Jammu and Kashmir. She urged the entire nation to come forward to engage with the youth of Jammu. In a series of tweets and inter-active session at 'India Ideas Conclave 2017' at Panaji, Goa, Mehbooba said: 'we need to lift 'economic siege' from Jammu and Kashmir'. 'There is mental siege, emotional siege, economic siege, Kashmir is under all kind of siege. You never know there will be a shutdown call followed by curfew and then there will be protest calls,' she said. Calling for making Jammu and Kashmir a model State for SAARC cooperation, the Chief Minister tweeted: 'we must work towards this'. 'Geographical positioning of Jammu and Kashmir makes it gateway to the Central Asia and that position ought to be used for opening up its people to the outside world. By re-opening the traditional and historic routes in the State, we shall be writing a new history,' she said and suggested making Jammu and Kashmir a model State with connectivity all across that it becomes a model for SAARC cooperation in the region at a bigger scale. Referring to the problems of youth, Mehbooba tweeted: 'the whole country has to come forward to engage with the youth of Jammu and Kashmir'. Recently, the State Government had announced amnesty for first-time stone pelters to give the youth a chance to live peaceful life. She hoped with the appointment of an Interlocutor by the Centre Government, the way forward for reconciliation has been laid out. 'The idea of India is not complete without the idea of Kashmir. It is one,' Mehbooba said. She said that 'when we think of Pakistan we should not think of Kashmir. When we think of Kashmir we should not think of Pakistan because Kashmir is ours.' 'Strategically Jammu and Kashmir is placed in a position whereby using our geography and restoring our roots to the outside world, we can write a different history. Maybe there is a percentage of people who are 'pro- Pakistan', there is a percentage of people who are 'pro-azadi'. But majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are with the idea of Kashmir as an idea within India,' the Chief Minister said. She said the BJP at this point of time is a party which 'if you are able to convince that Jammu and Kashmir can be saved like this, then they will listen. The BJP being a nationalist party can do anything and everything to get Kashmir out of this mess in which we are'. PTI and J&K Government handout add: Mehbooba said Jammu and Kashmir needs a 'healing touch' policy for the political process to take over. Stating that eliminating militants alone will not solve the problems of the State, she has called for a change in the present discourse on militancy, fighting, crackdowns etc. 'Those in the Army and other security forces feel that they have done their job to a great extent. Now, there is a need for a healing touch policy for the political process to take over,' Mufti has said. 'They (security forces) have created a conducive atmosphere. There is a general feeling among the police and security forces that they are doing their job, but they alone cannot do it,' Mufti said while responding to a question from a participant about the possibility of adopting a soft approach towards the separatist elements in the Valley. 'We need to have a healing touch policy. It does not mean (going) soft. If tomorrow, the court lets (hardline separatist leader) Masarat Alam go, in a democracy, what can you do? 'If he (Alam) goes to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court says there is nothing against him now and that you can't hold him back anymore, what will you do?,' she asked. 'Would you say no?No, you can't! You have these institutions. We cannot undermine these institutions for the sake of one person because one person cannot create a havoc,' Mehbooba said. She added that flushing out militants from Jammu and Kashmir would not solve the problem completely. 'If we kill 200 militants, 200 more will come from Pakistan, what to do?,' the PDP leader said. 'We need to do what we did during (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee's time. I am sure the situation can be turned around,' she said, referring to the peace initiatives taken by the former Prime Minister with Pakistan. Mehbooba said there was a need to change the discourse about Jammu and Kashmir. 'Today, the discourse is about militancy, fighting, crackdowns. We need to change that discourse and that is where the whole country has to help us. 'It is not that you will give us a pill and change everything overnight. I remember when I was young, people used to say 'Mufti saab bahut achhe hai, par Hindustani hai' (Mufti saab is good, but he is an Indian). Many people would say that. I wouldn't understand that if he was a good person, why were they saying he was a Hindustani,' she recalled while referring to her late father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. 'For me, India was Indira (Gandhi). For me, India was Taj MahalIt was the movies we used to watch. There are lakhs of people like me (in Jammu and Kashmir) who understand India and there are those, in the minority, who do not believe in it,' she said. Mehbooba said there were many people in the Valley who were caught up in a (difficult) situation. 'The quicker we get out of this situation, you will not need to teach nationalism to Kashmiris, but in fact, they will teach you (nationalism),' she said. On the problems being faced by the people of the State, the Chief Minister said it is the duty of every citizen of the country to come forward and help Jammu & Kashmir in coming out of these uncertainties. 'People of the State ought to be given a sense of belonging because the idea of India is incomplete without idea of Jammu & Kashmir. Reconciliation is the way ahead', she added. Mehbooba exuded confidence in the deep roots of values and ethos which the people of the State have displayed at critical times. On forming Government in the State, Mehbooba Mufti said though both PDP and BJP have ideological differences on many issues, the idea of alliance was aimed to get Jammu & Kashmir out of the present situation of uncertainty, end the inter regional discord in the State and, above all, connect the people of the State with their counterparts in rest of the country. 'The idea to go with BJP was to get Jammu & Kashmir out of this siege', she added. There is a need, the Chief Minister asserted, to go back to the era of Atal Behari Vajpayee through whose initiatives cross-LoC routes were opened, ceasefire on LoC was enforced for a decade or so and peace prevailed as a consequence in the State and between the two countries. Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu claimed that the alliance between the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which no one thought would last a week, has now turned into a durable one. Speaking at the 'India Ideas Conclave 2017' in Goa, Drabu said, 'It is true that it is a very fragile and contentious alliance. As Mufti saab (former JK CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) used to say, it is the North Pole and South Pole coming together. But with some degree of maturity displayed by either side, it is really working towards the developmental of Jammu and Kashmir.' Speaking about the alliance, Drabu said that right on day one itself the alliance had issues. 'But Mufti saab was a confident leader all his life. When he started in the 1960s, the Congress and any party from the rest of country was looked down upon. He (Mufti) ensured through consistent hard work that the Congress becomes an acceptable part of life,' the Minister said. Drabu said that when the PDP was contemplating to form an alliance with the BJP, people were asking the party (PDP) why it was not working with the Congress. The Minister said that the alliance with the BJP was a 'bold decision' taken by Mufti. 'We had contested elections on an anti-BJP plank and yet we decided to have alliance with them (BJP). I happened to work very closely with him at that particular time,' he said. 'All of us told him that it is suicidal and that we won't be able to step out of the house, we will get lynched,' Drabu recalled telling the former Chief Minister. 'He (Mufti) stuck to it. He said the people of India have voted for the BJP. He said that he was not engaging with the party (BJP), he was engaging with the people of India,' Drabu recounted. Drabu added that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed brought back the whole concept of civil society into the decision and went ahead and formed the Government with the BJP. Drabu called the alliance a 'huge experiment' and said it actually displays certain leadership quality to set in motion a process to create a framework to resolve the most contagious issues in the State.

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