Not Willing To Take Job Of CM; No Alternate To Talks With Pak: Mehbooba

12 December 2015

New Delhi: Putting to rest speculation about her taking over as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti today made it clear that she was 'not' willing to take up the job. 'No I don't want to,' was her reply to a question about whether she would be soon taking over the helm of affairs in the militancy-hit State. Mehbooba, who was participating at 'Aaj Tak agenda' programme, said the talk about her taking over as the Chief Minister was started by her father and incumbent Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, but 'I have said no to him as well'. 'I am not comfortable. I generally don't disagree with my father but this is a point on which I have,' she said and reasoned that the PDP-BJP alliance in the State needed a leader of the stature of Sayeed to run it. 'My father believes in conviction rather than convenience. He has done this alliance for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and not to make his daughter Chief Minister,' she said. In response to a question that BJP was not comfortable over her being made the Chief Minister as her 'nationalistic credentials' were doubtful and her politics was more akin to separatists groups like Hurriyat, Mehbooba replied that she 'did not require certificate from anyone'. 'I follow my conviction and nothing else. I will raise the issue when ever I find that there is something wrong,' she said. She said that India cannot escape from its duty of holding talks with Pakistan at a time when the world is facing threats from terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. 'India has to join hands with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Bangladesh if we want to keep terror groups off our shores,' she added. She was replying to a question whether the PDP leadership felt embarrassed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the November 7 rally in Srinagar that he does not require anyone's advice on Kashmir. 'People learn gradually through experience. As you know, Jammu and Kashmir is not like any other State. India's relations with Pakistan have direct impact on us. When we talk about Pakistan, we are not speaking out of context,' she said. She said there is no alternative to talks with Pakistan. 'You can avoid it or delay it but ultimately you have do what you have to do like what Sushma (Swaraj) Ji did by going there because we have to fight the menace like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. 'Modi ji ko zarurat hai ya nahi but humhe zarurat hai Pakistan se baat karne ki (whether Modi ji needs it or not but we need dialogue with Pakistan) because my State suffers directly due to bad relations with Pakistan,' she said. 'At the end, it's people of Jammu and Kashmir who die in cross-border firing. Onions may keep on coming from Wagah border (in Punjab) but people in Jammu and Kashmir will suffer,' the PDP president said. 'Why do we shy away from talks with Pakistan on Kashmir,' she asked. 'Instead of delaying it or avoiding it, we should pull the bull by its horns. As former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said we cannot change our neighbours, we should strive to bridge the gap and build bridges of peace.' 'We know that you require two hands to clap and I think the bigger hand (India) should offer to clap more often,' she said. Mehbooba downplayed the displaying of ISIS and Pakistani flags in the State and said people should focus on those who are with India. 'Nearly 60 to 65 per cent participate in the elections and cast their ballot. There are a fraction of people who don't want to be with you so it's better to isolate them by focusing on development of people who have faith in you,' the PDP president said. On the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, she said there is an agenda of alliance between PDP and BJP. 'We want that the reports of Working Group constituted by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be implemented. 'BJP was also part of the report which had recommended repealing of black laws and reduction of Army's role. There are barely 200 militants left in the Valley which can be handled by the Jammu and Kashmir police. Army needs to change its role and now contribute towards the development of the State,' she said. On Kashmiri Pandits, she said that a composite township was being considered where 50 per cent flats will be reserved for Kashmiri Panidts while the remaining will be given to Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists. Amid the intolerance debate, Mehbooba said return of awards by intellectuals was not manufactured but the 'beauty of democracy'. 'We should be proud of Indian democracy that we can register our protest like this as well,' she said. The PDP leader also said that India is a unique nation with unity in diversity as its core strength and some 'fringe elements, who combine pseudo Hinduism with nationalism', lead to the problem. Asked about the charge levelled by certain quarters that the return of awards was 'manufactured' and not 'spontaneous', she said, 'I don't think so. The award winners are intelligent and can't be swayed by anyone.' This is a message for everyone that intolerance will not yield anything beneficial for the country and that too when 'we want to move on a path of progress,' she said. Terming the entire debate on which meat to eat and not to eat as 'sickening', she said, adding, 'Here we talk about this even when the prices of dal have gone up'. 'All this discourse is sickening. All religions have contributed to India's growth where Hinduism has taught us to be tolerant, Islam has taught us equality and Christianity shows us compassion,' she said. Speaking about ISIS, she said the banned terror group was not a threat to Kashmir and the waving of ISIS or Pakistani flags in the Valley was nothing but a publicity stunt aimed at grabbing media attention. 'ISIS does not represent Islam, they are killing Muslims, preaching that atrocities be committed. Islam in Kashmir is different and teaches us to live with neighbours in peace. ISIS will never be a threat to Kashmir,' she said. She asked the media not to give publicity to such elements and recalled an incident of August 15. 'There were nearly 20-25,000 people at the venue. We took a conscious decision of keep private television channels out of the venue. 'We were apprehensive that one of the TV channels will pass on a Pakistani flag or an ISIS flag to someone in the audience and then the focus will shift from the function and this visual will be repeated again and again. 'This would have followed by various debates and at the end we would have to hear that the nation wants to know' she said as the audience in the hall burst into peals of laughter.