Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said that Article 370 of the Constitution, which guarantees special status to the state, is the nation’s commitment to the people of J-K and should be honoured. The chief minister said that dialogue is the only way forward to resolve the Kashmir issue and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a “huge mandate”, can create history by changing the narrative on Jammu and Kashmir. “Article 370 is the nation’s commitment to the people of J-K and therefore should be honoured,” the PDP chief wrote on Twitter. Her statement comes in the backdrop of a raging debate over the special provision, with calls for revocation of the Article along with Article 35A — relating to special rights and privileges of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Democracy is a battle of ideas and dialogue is the only way forward,” Mehbooba said on Twitter after addressing an interactive session here organised by a daily yesterday. She also batted for re-opening traditional routes for reviving economic activities, saying the country should take advantage of the state’s geostrategic location. “The country should take advantage of J&K’s geostrategic location and revive its traditional routes to foster greater economic activity,” Mehbooba said. An official spokesperson here said that at the session, the chief minister termed Article 370 as a bridge of faith between the state and the rest of the country.
“It is also a historic commitment people of the country made to Jammu and Kashmir people when the Muslim-majority state voluntarily acceded to an egalitarian society of the country,” the spokesman quoted Mehbooba as saying. The chief minister regretted the misconception among certain sections in the country about the special position of the state. Stating that dialogue was the only way to get Jammu and Kashmir out of the cycle of violence and uncertainty, the chief minister expressed hope that the appointment of a special representative by the Centre would help in creating a congenial atmosphere for a way forward in the state.
“Dialogue with all stakeholders in the state is the dire need of the hour to end bloodshed, acrimony and hatred besides heralding growth of business, trade and economy. For how long can we go like this?” she asked, stressing on a sustained dialogue process to end the violence. While welcoming the Centre’s decision to appoint former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative for a sustained dialogue, Mehbooba said for the first time such an engagement by the Centre has properly been formalised at the highest-level. She expressed hope that with an illustrious and unblemished track record, Sharma would be able to steer ahead the process to a substantive conclusion.
Mufti underlined the need for supporting this process by all agencies and not do anything which would disturb the ambience of the dialogue process. “It is all the more important to include all those people in the dialogue process whose ideas about the state are different from ours. Similarly, both India and Pakistan have to learn to live like good neighbours and resolve all differences through peaceful engagement and reconciliation,” she was quoted as saying by the spokesperson. The chief minister said the situation in the state has improved considerably since last year and sectors like tourism and trade have started to pick up the pace.