‘New govt must extend hand of friendship to Pak’

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PDP Releases Election Manifesto, says NC Govt’s failed to facilitate revocation of AFSPA, return of power projects

SRINAGAR: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Peoples Democratic Party patron and former chief minister today said that his party’s role is to make the Parliament of India a forum for representing the “Jammu and Kashmir issue” for debate and dialogue at the national level.

Mufti was addressing press after releasing the party’s manifesto- ‘Parliamentary Elections: Agenda for Change’- for the upcoming parliamentary polls during a press conference at his official Gupkar residence.

Slamming National Conference for giving a prior consent to the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the former chief minister said that the state government’s consent is taken before taking such a major decision against any state subject.

He regretted that since the National Conference took over reins of power in Jammu and Kashmir, almost all the confidence building measures started during Atal Behari Vajpayee or those initiated during the tenure of Dr Manmohan Singh were halted because of NC’s inability to pursue the same.

He said that it was chief minister Omar Abdullah’s inefficiency which did not allow implementation of recommendations of committees on revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and return of power projects. “Similarly the Rangarajan committee had recommended return of power projects to the state. But unfortunately NC has failed on both these promises made during its tenure.”

He said that in a democratic set up imposing restrictions or putting curbs on political activities of separatists is totally undemocratic. Mufti also advocated that government of India should engage voices of dissent in Kashmir. Meanwhile, reading from the Lok Sabha election manifesto, Mufti said that the trust deficit that exists today has been created because the regional parties of the state have not been able to use the Parliament as a forum for articulating the aspirations, highlighting the grievances, and voicing the insecurities of the people of J&K.

“In the last 65 years, the Parliament has never deliberated on J&K in any substantive and serious manner. All the well-meaning announcements made by different Prime Ministers be it the P V Narasimha Rao’s “sky is the limit for autonomy”, or Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “insaniyat kay dairay main” or Manmohan Singh’s “making borders irrelevant” need to be institutionalized for them to have an impact on the ground. Unless these approaches get legitimized and authorized by the Parliament, there cannot be any headway as far as the resolution is concerned,” he added.   

The former chief minister said that PDP’s mission in the Parliament will be to drive, persuade and convince all the parties to formalize a basic J&K policy; a kind of a Common Minimum Program of all the political parties on J&K. PDP will take the lead in doing this.  

“PDP aspires to change the national mind-set, through its interventions in the Parliament that finding a resolution in J&K is not only the Government’s responsibility. The opposition, as also other associated and regional parties, have an equal responsibility and stake in the well-being of J&K.”  

He said PDP has put its top leadership in the electoral fray. The President of the party, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, is leading the team by contesting from South Kashmir. Muzzaffar Hussain Beig a legal luminary from North Kashmir, Tariq Karra, a grass roots politician and former Finance Minister of J&K from central Kashmir. From Jammu we have fielded two of the senior most leaders of the state; Yashpal Sharma, a veteran politician who has been in active politics for more than 40 years.  Arshid Mallik who also has 30 years of political experience is contesting from Udhampur-Doda.      

“Our team of parliamentarians will seek to create an environment for resolution at the national level, not just through formal parliamentary deliberation but through informal political networking as well,” Mufti added.

He said that to build a momentum on these issues, it shall be the endeavour of PDP to have a “Special session of the Parliament on J&K”. “In this session that the members of PDP would anchor the debate and steer the discussion of the House towards a stated J&K Policy which is quasi legislative in its moorings,” he added.

According to Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir being the only Muslim majority state of the country adds to the credibility of India as a secular nation. “Along with this position, which J&K has attained by choice, come certain national responsibilities. It is our plan to work in the Parliament alongside the national leadership of minorities to address their concerns and insecurities. By working in tandem with them, we shall seek to strengthen their resolve and add to their voice by seeking the creation of an Equal Opportunities Commission.”  

He said PDP will propose, discuss and debate the creation of a new Ministry for Affairs of J&K. We will seek parliamentary approval for upgrading the existing Department of J&K Affairs which is currently a part of the home ministry. The idea is to give it a developmental focus and not an overly security angle.

In addition to these issues, he said PDP will seek to amend various national policies relating to developmental aspects with a view to make them beneficial for J&K. For instance, the National Hydro Policy, 2008, MSME Development Act, Micro Finance (Development and Regulation) Bill 2012, Amendment of Procurement Preference Policy Act.

During the press conference Mr Mufti was flanked by the party president, Mehbooba Mufti, who is also PDP’s parliamentary candidate for Anantanag; Tariq Hameed Karra, candidate for Srinagar parliamentary seat; Yahpal Sharma, candidate for Jammu; Arshad Malik, candidate for Udhampor; Naeem Akhtar, Chief Spokesperson and Altaf Bukhari, senior party leader.

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