Insisting that dialogue is the only way for peace between India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today suggested that the Modi government should adopt the policy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had exercised “patience” despite Kargil aggression and attack on Parliament. She also hit out at Pakistan for “forgetting” its promise to Vajpayee about not allowing its territory to be used for terrorism against India.
Underlining that war is no option to any problem, she said, “How long you can be in the mode of war? Dialogue is the only solution to bring peace.” Referring to Vajpayee’s steps, Mehbooba said the former Prime Minister had all the reasons to fight a big war after Kargil aggression by Pakistan happened in 1999, but he did not do it.
“It was followed by Parliament attack but even then he opted for patience and said ‘friends can be changed but not neighbours” the Chief Minister said addressing a gathering of refugees of 1947 while distributing cheques relating to compensation at a function here.
It was only after that the then President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf announced that Pakistani soil cannot be used for terrorism against India and the result was reduced militancy in J and K, she noted. “The Central government should also think on the lines to bring Pakistan to a level which we witnessed during the period of Vajpayee,” she said. In an apparent reference to the Kashmir issue, she said once the “big knot” is untied, all other “knots” will be automatically removed. Her comments came amid intense chill in the India- Pakistan relations.
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“We have to go back to the era of Vajpayee when hostilities between the two neighbouring countries were minimal and despite provocations like Kargil and Parliament attack, option of war was not even considered. Rather it led to opening of hearts and minds between the two sides which ultimately resulted into opening of borders, resumption of trade and more people to people contact,” Mehbooba said.
“We are fighting to resolve the (Kashmir) issue for so many years. I feel that if we all — the people of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir and governments in the state and at the Centre work together, we will be able to remove these knots. Once the big knot (Kashmir problem) is opened, it will automatically remove the small knots,” she said.
Pakistan is also facing terrorism and in recent past over 500-600 people have been killed due to terrorism, said the Chief Minister who was flanked by her Deputy Nirmal Singh at the event where cheques of compensation to the refugees from PoK were distributed, decades after their exodus in 1947 and 1965. The Centre had recently announced Rs 2,000 crore special package as compensation for the families of the refugees.
Batting strongly for her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s ideology of having friendly relations with the neighbours and not to enter into conflict with each other, she said cross-border roads should open along the border line in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister also sought the support of people of the state and the central government to bring Kashmir out of the over five-month-long unrest.
“There is tension between the two countries but trade has not been affected via Wagah border,” she said.
Saying that J&K has been the “biggest victim” of the subcontinent’s partition of 1947, Mehbooba asked people of every region, ideology and religion to jointly fight for resolving issues confronting the state. She said the people of J and K have been suffering since the partition of 1947 unlike any other state.
She asked people of the state to join hands and lead in unbundling the “knots” which have tied them in a quagmire of “uncertainty and hopelessness”.
The Chief Minister said she wishes the relations between India and Pakistan improve so that there is maximum trade and people’s interactions, resulting in a consequential benefit to the people of the state.
She sought the help of all stakeholders in accomplishing this, saying it is her earnest desire to see the breeze of harmony, friendship and peace sweep the entire region so that South Asia gets rid of poverty, illiteracy, disease and destruction.
Mufti said wars all around have left behind a trail of death, destruction and displacement only. She said people of the state hold an important responsibility of ensuring and leading to friendly relations between India and Pakistan.
Talking about Chinese developmental projects in PoK, the Chief Minister said China is investing in the area for building economic corridor and “I feel Jammu and Kashmir should also be made as a corridor of trade to central Asia but it is still isolated.”
Referring to the refugees’ issue, Mehbooba said, “It is not the issue of five-ten lakh or one crore people, it is a human issue. India got Independence (and) there was a division, but Jammu and Kashmir state suffered the most due to the division (between India and Pakistan) as no other state suffered such a problem.”
Asserting that her father and former Chief Minister late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had always advocated that this issue is a “human problem”, she said there are various vexed problems, people of the state have suffered the wounds of divide and many other problems on this account.
About the compensation, she said justice delayed is justice denied but the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and her government in the J and K have finally done justice with them, even as the previous governments failed bitterly for decades to help them.