Mufti to talk on Kashmir 'self-rule' idea at UN
25 October 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has been busy meeting political leaders and others ahead of his visit to the United Nations where he is expected to project India as having a 'better and workable solution' to the Kashmir crisis. Mufti Sayeed, who leaves on Sunday, will represent India as head of its non-official delegation.After having met all the major national leaders, including United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Inder Kumar Gujaral and V.P Singh, Mufti Sayeed is all set to offer a realistic solution to the Kashmir problem.'The basic idea would be to project India as having a better and workable solution of the Kashmir crisis than anyone else,' sources close to Mufti Sayeed told IANS. It would seek to put the Indian idea of building a better relationship with Pakistan and making the Line of Control on the border just a 'line on the map' - the idea of Manmohan Singh -, brighter and practical than other options on the table.Sayeed, founder of the regional Kashmir political group Peoples Democratic Party, will sell 'self rule' as an indigenous idea of the party and different from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's 'self governance'.Indirectly, it would be a concerted attempt to take steam out of the Pakistani proposals at the international level by projecting that India was keen on resolving the issue in a step-by-step approach, rather than leaping headlong to a solution which may have no foundation or support among the people.Mufti Sayeed is a strong votary of internal dialogue between Delhi and the alienated sections of Kashmiri society, - read separatists. He wants Delhi to honour its commitments made to separatists to release the detainees languishing in jails. 'There should be high degree of trust both between Delhi and Srinagar and also between Delhi and Islamabad,' he has been saying at his public meetings.That is the message that he intends to carry to the United Nations as well. Sources said that his message would focus on the current situation in the Indian subcontinent and how resolution of the Kashmir crisis can better the climate for all times to come.In his latest public meeting in Anantnag in South Kashmir, he had stated that Jammu and Kashmir holds the key to the peace and progress of entire south Asia.But his critics are not convinced - neither the allies nor the opposition. Health and Medical Education Minister and senior-most Congress leader of Jammu region, Mangat Ram Sharma, said that those talking of 'self rule' were 'befooling the people'. 'It is a device to divide the people and weaken their relationship with the rest of the country. We will oppose the 'self rule' tooth and nail. It is a Pakistani idea, and those selling it are clearly sympathetic to the Pakistani cause.'Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party unit spokesperson Hair Ohm said that Mufti Sayeed's idea and the way he was pursuing it was 'anti- national'.But, Mufti Sayeed has rebuffed all censure, saying that those criticising the 'self rule' were missing the bigger picture. 'There is a need for them to come out of the shell and see the new reality,' he told a public meeting in Anantnag on Sunday.Mufti Sayeed is making all efforts to make his UN visit as a high-profile event. He has been meeting people and leaders and addressing a series of public meetings ahead of his visit to the UN - underlining the fact that he was talking to his people before talking to the world, and that he was the right person to speak for Kashmir at an international stage.Political observers say the test would come when Mufti Sayeed speaks at the UN and what he says in the Kashmir Valley on his return. But, for the moment Mufti Sayeed, the first Muslim to have held the position of India's home minister in 1989-1990, is on cloud nine. He is the first Kashmiri to represent India at the UN as head of the non-official delegation.