MUMBAI Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said the country cannot go back to 1947 and that there was need to find an alternative to the idea of Azad Kashmir within the framework of the Indian constitution.
We need to replace the idea of ‘Azad Kashmir’ with a better idea within the framework of the Indian Constitution. We cannot go back to 1947, we have to move forward, said Mehbooba while addressing a gathering at Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in Mumbai on the topic, Kashmir the way forward.
Maintaining that governance was only possible only if there was peace, Mehbooba said that Kashmiris were suffering. Kashmiris are the sufferers. Till when will our people keep witnessing this farce of people getting killed? she asked.
She said her People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had an alliance with the BJP knowing it will be ‘suicidal’.
When her party entered into a tie-up with the BJP to form government in J&K, it was expected that prime minister Narendra Modi will reach out to Pakistan, she said.
“We knew it (alliance with the BJP) was suicidal for the party. Yet we put everything at stake. For a party which is seen as one that encourages talks with separatists, we thought Modi will rise to the occasion and since (former PM Atal Bihari) Vajpayee did not have that kind of a mandate, we thought he will reach out to Pakistan, to the people of J&K and start what Vajpayee had left,” she said.
When Vajpayee was the prime minister and her father was chief minister of J&K, the message which went out was both the Centre and the state government were on the same page and the 2002-2005 period became the “golden period”, she said.
The PDP ensured a crowd of 30,000 when the prime minister was invited to the Kashmir valley but he did not rise to the occasion, she said, speaking at an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation.
“Modi had the mandate which Vajpayee did not. While forging an alliance with the BJP, we had thought if he (Modi) could solve Kashmir’s woes, we did not mind if that meant an end of PDP. We took disillusionment (of people) on us for this purpose,” Mufti said.
Asked if she would be open to an alliance with the Congress and the National Conference, she said, “We had never thought we would ally with the BJP. Now, an alliance with the Congress and NC depends on the need of the hour.”
She said countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) are being held hostage to the dispute between India and Pakistan.
The countries in the regional grouping should come together and make Jammu and Kashmir a model of cooperation, the PDP chief said.
“SAARC countries are being held hostage due to the animosity between India and Pakistan. Why can’t all the SAARC countries come together and make Jammu and Kashmir a model for co-operation of SAARC countries,” she said.
“Let’s have a SAARC office of all countries in Jammu and Kashmir. Let’s have a handicraft university of SAARC countries in Kashmir because there is no better place for handicraft than Kashmir,” she said.
The need today is to make borders irrelevant, she said.
Jammu and Kashmir was placed under the governor’s rule after the PDP-BJP alliance fell apart in June. Last month, governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state assembly.
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