Only Secularism Can Keep J&K United: Peerzada

26 April 2009
Rising Kashmir

Srinagar: Asserting that the secularism was a major tool that can keep Jammu and Kashmir united, senior Congress leader and Minister for Education, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed Saturday said polarization between Kargil and Ladakh delayed the mandate for Ladakh parliamentary constituency. In an exclusive interview with Rising Kashmir, Sayeed said: “I believe secularism is a major tool which can keep J&K united. This is the weapon which can fight with the elements hell bent upon dividing the State. Secular forces should unite and work for peace, prosperity and the development of the State.” The Education Minister said a major reason why it took so long for the Congress to announce P Namgyal as its candidate for Ladakh parliamentary constituency was polarization between the people of Ladakh and Kargil. “Thoughts are not same of the people of Buddhist dominated Ladakh and Shiia Muslims dominated Kargil. This was the main reason which forced us to hold deliberations, one after another, as far as announcing mandate was concerned,” he said. “Finally, a consensus was evolved that Namgal, who is a prominent face in Ladakh, should be given the mandate.” On why Congress left three parliamentary seats of Kashmir for a single seat of Ladakh, the Sayeed said: “There is no question of leaving three seats for Ladakh seats. We contested on two seats from Jammu and now have the third one from Ladakh. It was the demand of the people of Ladakh that the mandate for Ladakh should be given to Congress.” He said Congress desperately needs the support of NC from Kargil for bagging the seat. About his party’s agenda, Sayeed said peace was the biggest priority for the Congress. “We hope that J&K would witness complete peace and tranquillity in the six year term of the NC-Congress coalition,” he said. On why he issued statements against Peoples Democratic Party Patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed recently as he was close to Mufti during the Congress-PDP regime, the Congress Minister said: “I respect Mufti but he has taken some steps that I believe should not have been taken. I believe Mufti is the person who brought Governor Jagmohan to Kashmir in 1990. All of us know what happened in 1990. Had there been no Jagmohan in Kashmir, the situation would have been different today.” Sayeed said PDP won majority of the seats in South Kashmir following mass support of Jama’at e Islami carders. “I fail to understand what tactics Mufti played to seek votes of Jama’at carders,” he said. “One more thing should be noted that PDP and BJP voted in favour of Panthers Party candidate in State Legislative Council elections in Jammu.” On how strong the NC-Congress coalition was, Sayeed said like 2002 assembly elections, people had given a fractured mandate. “Running a coalition is not an easy task. I hope we will complete the full term and lead the State toward development and peace,” he said. The Congress leader criticized PDP’s self-rule proposal stating he had failed to understand what self-rule PDP was talking about. “I believe we already have self-rule. We were elected by the people, isn’t this self-rule,” he said.