Self-rule Only Solution To Kashmir Issue: PDP
17 October 2009
: The Center’s offer of a “unique solution” to the Kashmir dispute has spurred the state’s two main parties into pitching old proposals that they hope will now carry more weight in Delhi. Expressing fretfulness over the current downslide in Indo-Pak relations, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said that the two countries have to accede to the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Muftis also said that the party’s ‘self-rule’ formula was the cure for all ills of the state. Addressing a seminar ‘Is Self-Rule a Way Forward to Resolution of Kashmir Problem?’ organized by PDP in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the former Chief Minister Mufti Syed said, “India and Pakistan have no option but to accede to the demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir if we are able to put up a united and well considered plan for resolution.” He said PDP is attempting to do so through party’s “mass contact program” over the ‘self-rule’ formula. Claiming that ‘self-rule’ formula was a “mission and not a springboard to capture power”, Mufti said, 'In or out of power, ‘self-rule’ remains our commitment and I am hopeful we will achieve this in my lifetime itself.' Party president Mehbooba Mufti, who was also present on the occasion, said ‘self-rule’ formula speaks about the revival of the integrity of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir which has suffered division and fragmentation of its land, resources and road links. About the difference between the NC’s ‘autonomy’ and her party’s ‘self-rule’, she said the application of the issues under ‘autonomy’ would be restricted only to centre-state relations, whereas ‘self-rule’ provided a larger vision that could neutralize the negative fallout of partition of the state. Addressing the day-long seminar, Mahbooba said as a first step to realization of the concept of ‘self-rule’, it was necessary to completely revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and demilitarize civilian areas of the state. Mehooba Mufti said Kashmir society would continue to simmer with anger and discontent until the civil society was not provided unrestricted space for asserting its rights without troops breathing down their necks. She said the government itself had placed the number of active militants in the state at 700 and it was not understandable as to why establishment was keen on retaining the same level of troops in the state that was required two decades back when thousands of young men had taken up arms. She said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was expected to take measures that are aimed at not just to secure the gains of the peace process so far but widen its scope to make a real difference to the lives of people.