Mufti Urges Singh Not to Abandon ‘Pakistan Policy’

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JAMMU: Regretting that the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had chosen to lend his voice to the hawks on the current Indo Pakistan problems Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today expressed strong disapproval of measures that undermine the peace process. 

Addressing the members of the district committee Kathua here today the party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said these developments had come as a severe setback to the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mufti said suspension of the implementation of new liberal visa regime and virtual deportation of hockey players from Pakistan sent extremely negative signals to people in the state who were looking up to the Prime Minister for carrying forward the peace process that had impacted lives of the people very positively in the last ten years. He said the ceasefire between the two armies had brought back normalcy and happiness into the lives of people from Kathua to Kargil who had been condemned to incessant shelling and exchange of fire for decades and fear that forced them into bunkers and safe houses. “Same was true of the people living on the other side of the border and the two governments owed it to this vulnerable population to de escalate the tension and restore normalcy on the LOC” Mufti said.

Mufti said it was disheartening for the large peace constituency in the country that the Prime Minister should have indicated the end of “business as usual” with Pakistan in the wake of the unfortunate incidents on the LOC and the shrill debate that followed it in a section of media. He said two successive governments led by Dr Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had invested heavily in the peace process and it would be unfortunate if Dr Singh for any reason felt obliged to go back on his own painstaking effort by conceding space to extremist views on his Pakistan policy. ” There is no reason why a process that was put in place in the aftermath of parliament attack when two armies were in combat positions, Kargil before that and had survived Mumbai atrocities should be abandoned for recent incidents on the LOC” Mufti said.

Referring to ups and downs in any engagement with Pakistan Mufti said there was no doubt that complexities of our history would make this no easy task. The intervention of forces inimical to peace was never too far from the efforts to bridge the gap and it is only the kind of statesmanship displayed by Vajpaee and after him by  Dr Singh that could take it forward. He said people of the state are in direct line of fire and it is this state that has taken the brunt of open wars and low grade hostilities for the last 6 decades and people living outside should understand our pain before raising war cries on either side of the border. Prime Minister must intervene on the side of peace and resolution rather than let his own legacy be wasted, he added.

Mufti said the PDP had through its agenda and performance charted a new course for taking the state out of its problems. He said while other parties had thrived on conflict and instability PDP implemented a positive agenda that had led to substantial progress in reducing tensions, restoring civil liberties and addressing the external dimension of Kashmir issue through historic initiatives like reopening of cross LOC routes for trade and travel. ” It is not bullet for bullet policy but restoration of democratic process, good governance and reconciliation with Pakistan that brought about change in J&K ” he said. 

Mufti said  the party had introduced new concepts in governance to bring about transparency by establishing institutions like the State Accountability Commission ( SAC) and bringing in the right to information Act.

Mufti said though the the present government had failed in building on these initiatives, his party would continue to strive for progress on both external and internal dimensions. He said it was disturbing that even on development front this government had failed to carry forward execution of a large number of centrally sponsored schemes apart from state specific special programmes like the Prime Minister’s economic package and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded projects.

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