September 2020 News

PDP Leader Naeem Akhtar Equates 'silence' In Kashmir With 'lull Before The Storm'

17 September 2020
The Tribune
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Senior PDP leader and party think tank Naeem Akhtar, who was set free from house detention on Thursday, said that the party would devise its strategy only after the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti was released. 'That's the time when we will take a final call on what to do next,' said Akhtar. At the moment, he told The Tribune over phone, 'Kashmir is witnessing silence of graveyard' and decoded it as a ' lull before storm'. 'Gupkar declaration (that calls for the restoration of special status and statehood of J&K) is the only way out,' he said, adding, 'there is inevitability of talks with Pakistan to resolve Kashmir (issue).' 'All roads to peace pass through Jammu and Kashmir and once peace is achieved here, Pakistan will fall in line,' he said as he recalled the November 7, 2015 public meeting where the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the handholding of Pakistan as an elder brother does to a younger brother. Regarding his release and the task ahead, Naeem Akhtar, also a former minister, said: 'Trial begins now.' Reflecting on the post-August 5, 2019 situation, Akhtar observed: 'It was not just scrapping of one Article but scrapping of the state and no one was consulted. The most authentic Kashmiri voice of Farooq Abdullah was not allowed to reach Parliament.' But now it is 'going to be politics of unity that will steer the course', he said. According to Akhtar, Kashmir situation has 'gone bad to worse'. Citing an example, he said that there was an encounter in Srinagar today, fifth in the city in one year, in which civilians, militants and security personnel were killed. 'It is taking heavy toll'. Jammu, he said, 'will be first to experience the landfall of the floodgates (entry of outsiders) in terms of its resources, economy and jobs'. 'Dogras will be outnumbered before Kashmiri Muslims. It is loss of Dogra heritage. Maharaja Gulab Singh had extended the boundaries in South Asia, it was cut, and now it has been reduced to nothing,' he said. Akhtar dismissed the charge that he had ever legitimised stone throwing as a way of peaceful protest. 'No, I never legitimised the stone throwing. I felt that this was a weapon of compulsion.' He was the first to say, 'China is emerging third party on Kashmir.' Explaining it, he said, 'It is now too obvious from the statements made by the Defence and Foreign Ministers. China was keeping Indian leadership and others under surveillance.' 'How else China's role on Jaish-e-Mohammad and its chief could be explained,' he asked. China had made several attempts to save Masood Azhar getting listed as global terrorist by the UN in the aftermath of the February 14 , 2019 Pulwama terror attack. Akhtar said whether it was talk of two-front war or holding on to Kashmir and Ladakh the 'cost is going up and up'. 'I don't know how the current situation will be resolved, through force or something else, I think it will happen on China's terms,' he added.