August 2016 News

Kashmir Unrest: CM Mehbooba Mufti Takes On Pakistan, Separatists

27 August 2016
India Today
Siddhartha Rai

New Delhi: As Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to reel under relentless curfew with the body count increasing by the day, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti seems to have emerged as the new face of Indian nationalism in the Valley. She attacked Pakistan, accusing it of prodding the ongoing turmoil in the Valley. MUFTI FIGHTS OPPOSITION WITHIN PDP, TAKES ANTI-PAKISTAN STANCE Sources within Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) told Mail Today that the anti-Pakistan stance that Mufti has assumed had not come easy to the chief minister. Mufti battled a whole band of detractors within her own party to take the hard line against Pakistan and to echo the sentiments of her ally. 'The new Mehbooba Mufti has in a single stroke and in a few days' time changed the narrative of the political scene in the Valley. She put her foot down in the face of strong opposition from certain quarters within the party. She made it clear to us: 'I am not going to put up two faces - one here in the state and the other to the Centre'. Those opposing the move had to toe her line as she is the supreme leader of the party,' a highly-placed PDP source told Mail Today. REASON FOR MUFTI'S STANCE PDP sources also told Mail Today that Mufti fully understands the compulsions of her political situation. She can rein in or pacify or engage the separatists only with the help of the Union government, where the ruling party happens to be her ally in the state. Meanwhile, those in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) camp maintain that Mufti's nationalistic stance reflects her comprehension of the real political situation of the Valley. 'She is now actually talking to the majority of those who elected her and not just the separatists. The chief minister is echoing not just her feeling about the situation but that of the majority living in the Valley. We have always said that only five districts of the Valley are disturbed and not the whole state as is made out to be. Now, she has also accepted that only five per cent are pro-Azadi,' said Abha Khanna, director of Jammu Kashmir Study Circle (JKSC), an RSS-supported research group working in the state. While BJP leaders denied commenting on Mufti's stand in general, national secretary Shrikant Sharma said it was a welcome step. Meanwhile, a senior BJP leader hailing from J&K said Mufti has finally woken up to the ground realities. 'When you become the ruler, it is then that you are accosted by hard realities. It is matter of political survival for her now. PDP is in a precarious crisis.' MUFTI COULD HAVE LOST CREDIBILITY WITH THOSE WANTING PEACE 'If violence continues Mufti will in the same proportion lose her credibility and face with the peace-loving majority. If the government falls, she will be the biggest loser. But, the larger thing is that if she can take on the secessionists, we are with her,' he added. Another explanation for Mufti's Pakistan bashing and her support to the curfew and law agencies in the state was that she was feeling betrayed by the separatists. 'Mufti tried hard to resolve the crisis, but the separatists did not support her. In fact, the level of violence this time reflects that they have crossed a vital and thin line which Mufti can no longer afford to let them,' said a J&K BJP leader. On Sunday, Mufti called on PM Modi and attacked Pakistan. 'Our Prime Minister took bold initiatives of inviting Nawaz Sharif for oath-taking ceremony and later flew to Lahore. This was unfortunately followed by the Pathankot terror attack,' she said after the hour-long meeting.