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Mufti favours all-inclusive talks

Shujaat Bukhari

Lists 4 pre-conditions for fruitful and meaningful talks

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed

SRINAGAR: Former Jammu and Chief Minister and patron of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday offered his party's full support in creating a conducive atmosphere for any serious effort to resolve the Kashmir problem. He said that a congenial atmosphere was necessary to make any initiative fruitful and acceptable to all stakeholders.

Addressing a public rally at the Parade Ground in Jammu on Sunday, the Mufti emphasised that the dialogue process should be all-inclusive and lasting to make such efforts fruitful and meaningful. Listing four pre-conditions for a meaningful dialogue, the Mufti said that release of political prisoners as well as hundreds of innocent youth languishing in different jails was must. Furthermore, draconian laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Disturbed Area Act should be immediately revoked and forces be withdrawn from the civilian areas. “The government, on record, has stated that infiltration has come down and there is decline in the militancy, so there is no reason to keep forces in civilian areas,” he argued.

“After fulfilling these conditions, Prime Minister should convene a Round Table Conference by involving all stake-holders, including separatists, to make the process meaningful,” he said.

“Addressing genuine concerns of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and restoring their democratic rights are a must for the dialogue process,” he and said that the sense of uncertainty and fear that have gripped the people of the State for the last two years should be removed.

The Mufti pointed out that said even after the visit of the all-party delegation to the State and the announcement of the eight-point agenda, the government had not taken a single step to rebuild the confidence of the people, except appointing interlocutors. He emphasised that there was a need for a starting point to break the logjam and restart the peace process.

“Since its formation, the PDP has been advocating peaceful resolution of this problem,” he said and reminded the gathering that during the six-year tenure of the PDP-Congress regime in the State, an atmosphere was created to take some bold initiatives such as opening of some points on the Line of Control (LoC), disbanding of the Special Operations Group, end of repression, restoring dignity and honour of the people, release of political prisoners etc. “It was all due to our sincere efforts that the then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, during his historical speech at Srinagar, had extended hands of friendship to Pakistan despite the high tension on the border at that time due to the attack on Parliament,” he reminded the gathering, adding, “Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan has also played important role in taking our peace process forward.”

“Poonch-Rawalkote and Srinagar-Muzaffarabad roads were opened and two Round Table conferences were held during the regime of the UPA,” he said, adding, “what ever steps PDP-Congress regime had taken, the successive Central governments had endorsed them.”

The Mufti also took the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership to task for demanding abrogation of Article 370. “The BJP and the NC had jointly enjoyed power for 5 long years as coalition partners. “Why had the BJP not raised the demand at that time?” he asked.

While throwing light on Self-Rule proposal, he said Article 356 should not be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir. The self-rule was aimed at driving a a wedge between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan in developing this belt as Free Trade Zone. He made a reference towards resolution of SAARC to make South Asia a Free Trade Zone. “On an experimental basis let us start his process from this region.”

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