June 2004 News

Mehbooba Wants To Give Kashmir A Voice

11 June 2004
The Times of India

New Delhi: Talking about Kashmir's problems from the Valley was not enough. Stepping out was important. So becoming a Lok Sabha member is a natural progression along the political path Mehbooba Mufti has chosen. It is important to interact with the rest of the country,' says Mehbooba, the freshest face of Kashmiri politics, after spending a week in the House. 'There is no point in sitting there and complaining about how nothing really gets done.' Having inherited politics from her father, Mehbooba has worked hard for the PDP. Seen as a turning point in J&K's quest for peace, the functioning of the PDP-Congress government has helped the dialogue process with Pakistan. Mehbooba may be a first-time MP, but she has her initial impressions. 'Democracy must allow all the voices to be heard. But if that means making so much noise that business is disrupted, surely it does not help anyone. People in Kashmir have a lot of expectation from us,' she says. About the conduct of elections in the Valley, Mehbooba says, 'The situation under which elections were conducted... so many lives were lost in violence and yet people came out to vote. Surely they expect their voices to be heard and normalcy to return to their lives.' Mehbooba appears upbeat about the new beginning. 'The best thing was the acceptance from people cutting across party lines and regions, who made me feel welcome in the House. So many of them came up to tell me that they had worked with my father and made me feel comfortable about working with them.' She is all praise for the young turks - Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Jatin Prasada and co. 'They stay away from Central Hall, probably because they can't be themselves amongst people, most of whom have been their parents' friends. But they are so confident and focussed about the real issues and are refreshingly sincere. They are a qualified lot with career options. Yet they came into politics,' she says.


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