Maintaining that shutting the doors for emissaries of dialogue is not going to help anyway, Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti today said by spurning the parleys, the separatist leadership is not facilitating the solution of the problem but only holding up the resolution process.
“We have lost several opportunities in the past to resolve the issue through engagement and dialogue and today again if we miss the chance, the coming generations are never going to forgive us for our intransigence,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a function organized here in connection with the formal launch of UJALA scheme in Kashmir.
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, Minister for Agriculture Production, Mr Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Minister for Cooperatives and Ladakh Affairs, Chering Dorjay, Minister for Education, Mr Naeem Akhtar, Minister of State for Housing & Urban Development Social Welfare, Health & Medical Education, Ms Asiea Naqash, Minister of State for Forest, Ecology and Environment, Animal & Sheep Husbandry, Cooperative and Fisheries, Mr Zahoor Ahmad Mir, Member Parliament Fayaz Mir and several Legislators were present on the occasion.
Maintaining that her party has been consistently advocating dialogue both with Pakistan and all sections of the society within J&K, including the separatists, for the permanent resolution of the Kashmir issue, Ms Mehbooba said whether it was the party’s Common Minimum Programme with Congress in 2002, its Election Manifestos or its ‘Agenda of Alliance’ with BJP, PDP has repeatedly reiterated its agenda of peaceful resolution of the issue through engagement and reconciliation. “And to a large extent we had succeeded in facilitating setting off a productive reconciliation and resolution process in and around J&K between 2002 and 2005,” she said and added that today again the party’s position is same and it was in this spirit that she recently wrote to the separatist leaders requesting them to engage in talks for the resolution of the issue.
The Chief Minister revealed that when V P Singh was the Prime Minister in nineties and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the Union Home Minister, the later had prevailed on Mr Singh that he has an opportunity to rewrite the subcontinent’s history, if he can resolve the Kashmir issue. “Mr V P Singh agreed to engage with various stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the issue through dialogue and fortunately at that time Government of India was ready to discuss every possible solution. Accordingly, the separatist leadership in Kashmir was approached through emissaries to engage with New Delhi for the settlement of the issue, however, they refused to come to the negotiating table and lost the first opportunity to resolve the issue,” Ms Mehbooba said and added that again another opportunity was lost when the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee led off the peace and reconciliation process on both external and internal fronts in 2003. “Again the Hurriyat leadership was invited for talks to resolve the issue. However, because of the internal discord within the separatist leadership at that time, another opportunity to resolve the issue was lost,” she said.
Ms Mehbooba said, however, if anything was achieved in Jammu and Kashmir since the partition of the subcontinent, it was between 2002 and 2005 when cross-LoC roads were opened for movement of people and goods and there was peace along the borders. “On the internal front also various confidence building measures were taken for the rehabilitation of the victims of violence and after a long era of political uncertainty, Kashmir had started radiating peace in the subcontinent instead of becoming a bone of contention between India and Pakistan,” she said and added unfortunately, after Mr Vajpayee demitted office in 2004, there was no substantive movement forward on the peace and reconciliation initiatives taken by India and Pakistan vis-à-vis Kashmir leading, once again, to an era of cynicism and alienation in the Valley.
Ms Mehbooba said with a robust mandate on his back and the country’s political leadership, cutting across the divide, fully supportive of reviving the peace and reconciliation process in and around Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi has the opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue in the interest of the peace and stability of the State and the region. “And I am sure a serious effort was made by reaching out to every section of the society in J&K, including the separatist leadership through the All Party Delegation to set the resolution process into motion through dialogue,” she said and added that unfortunately, the separatists seem to have again missed the opportunity by refusing to engage. “If we refuse to talk to anybody, how come the resolution will evolve?” she asked.
Stressing the need for continuing the efforts for peaceful resolution of the issue, the Chief Minister called for reaching out to people of Jammu and Kashmir through substantive political and economic measures to address the anger, alienation and the aspirations. She also urged the separatist leadership to engage in negotiations to make peace a reality in the State and bring an end to the miseries of the people.
“Despite the challenges and impediments, the prevailing painful situation in Kashmir necessitates once again reaching out to all shades of the political opinion in the State and initiating substantive political and economic measures to revive and consolidate the peace and resolution process,” the Chief Minister said and added that violence in any form only brings miseries to the people and is not a means to seek resolution of the problems. “Instead of pushing our youth on the streets, we should ask them to join their schools and ourselves come to the forefront for resolution of the issues through political and democratic means,” she said added that neither the stones nor the guns either in hands of the youth, the militants or in the hands of security forces would enable a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem.
Ms Mehbooba said the people of the State, irrespective of their age, gender, status or the political affiliation, have been suffering the disastrous consequences of the turmoil and they have to be retrieved from this quagmire, sooner the better and “the onus lies not only on us but the separatist leadership as well to give the peace and resolution process a chance.”
“Our children are getting killed or maimed, our social fabric is slipping into disorder, economy is in shambles, educational sector has suffered immensely, tourism inflow is zero, shopkeepers are not able to do business, industrial units are shut, development process has come to a halt and people are feeling suffocated. We shall have to ponder over how long we are going to allow this self destruction to continue?” she said adding; “We shall have to reinforce our resolve to work through peaceful means and through public participation towards resolution of the problems and restoration of peace in the State.”