Asserting that Peoples Democratic Party would not sell its mandate for the sake of power, party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed today said that the interests of state and its people alone will guide the party in its bid to form a stable and representative government in Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing the electoral college of the party that had met here today to elect PDP president, Mufti said that the party was in informal negotiation with Bhartiya Janta Party and depending upon the areas of convergence a coalition would be formed on the basis of Common Minimum Programme. “We are in track two negotiations with BJP. We may differ in our vision and priorities but an attempt is being made to find a common ground so as to evolve consensus on all issues to carry forward the peace process and political and economic agenda”, he said.
Reiterating that assuming power was never his priority he said, “Our alliance with any political party will be based on principals and policies. I assure you and the people of Jammu and Kashmir that I will never sell my mandate and will not compromise on the basic, issues on which the people have reposed trust on PDP, just for the sake of power”.
He said that after some consensus evolves during the “informal talks”, the party will depute its senior party leaders for holding structured dialogue with BJP. “We will have to agree on basic issues and move forward for transforming Jammu and Kashmir into politically stable and economically developed state for which peace is the pre requisite”, he said adding that Common Minimum Programme will form the basics of governance in Jammu and Kashmir for which negotiations were on with BJP.
He said that decisive but fractured mandate has thrown up one of the biggest challenge for his party but “PDP will take up the challenge only if I feel that by entering into an alliance I will be in a position to connect people of all the regions and work for the welfare of entire state”.
“We have the necessary material and capacity in the form of our leaders and policy makers to take up the challenge and do what people have voted us for. Our administration is best in the entire country and we are confident that we will achieve the distinction to give a stable, accountable and representative government”.
Reiterating his stand that peace was the pre-requisite for economic viability in Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti said that Government of India will have to address Kashmir issue by holding meaningful dialogue. “We have time and again reiterated that neighbourer can not be changed and it was the time when we must engage Pakistan in negotiations so to ensure peace in the sub-continent. “We do not want to dictate terms as it is under the ambit of Prime Minister’s power to decide on the foreign policy matters. However, it is also clear that any hostility between India and Pakistan has a direct impact on Jammu and Kashmir and its people. We want that peace should prevail on the borders and within in the state. We want to bridge the gap between the two neighbouring countries for ensuring peace in the region”.
He said that Narendra Modi had made the right beginning by inviting PM of Pakistan Nawaz Sharief for his inauguration but unfortunately this positive initiative was stalled soon after by calling off the talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries.
Mufti said that country’s leadership has to responde and respect the faith reposed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir in democratic process. The best way to do that, he said, is to remove the impression that Jammu and Kashmir is being governed by military law. This, he said, is a source of embracement for our country even at the national level and the continues use of special powers for security forces compromises the dignity and personal liberty of the common people who must have the same benefit and rights as enjoyed by any citizen in the country.
Calling for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in time bound manner, Mufti said that the requirement of such special powers to the forces no more exist in view of the drastic decline in militancy. When such laws give adverse impression why should we have them”, he said adding that PDP was clear on the issue that it does not want just an assurance for the sake of assurance on this subject but a proper plan to see that the law is repealed at the earliest.
He said that the Kashmiri youth were facing problems in pursuing their studies outside the state. “The youth have become a particular victim of trust deficit between the state and rest of the country”, he said adding that his aim was to restore the dignity of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir whose loyalty to the country is suspected and who are required to prove their patriotism in every matter including finding a job, getting a passport or finding a residence outside the state. “It is the blot on the fair name of our country that even after 70 years of independence Kashmiries have to prove their credentials and trust worthiness”, he said adding that PDP want to relive the people of this embarrassment.
The PDP patron further said that his party will insist for the returning of NHPC run power projects, especially Dul Hasti and Salal, to Jammu and Kashmir as per the recommendations of Rangrajan Committee. “The state of Jammu and Kashmir has suffered due to the Indus Water Treaty as the interest of state were not taken care of when such agreement was entered into”, he said adding that rivers being one of the biggest resources of state will have to be utilized for the welfare of Jammu and Kashmir and its people.
Mufti further sought strengthening of cross-LoC trade and travel in the coming days. LoC travel was envisioned to be a facility to everyone wanting to visit each other’s country and not to remain confined to the divided families. He said that travel across the LoC after 2005 has helped in removing many misconceptions about our state, its development and the right enjoyed by the people in the state among those who come from other side of the LoC.
Jammu and Kashmir, he said, has to be developed as a showcase of the country and we should not shy in allowing the people to come and feel the difference. “Similarly, the trade that was started on Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote route has to grow beyond its barter character and it need to be institutionalized by providing banking facilities so that people of all the regions of state benefit from free trade”. He said that PDP remains committed for opening of other routs as well.
The PDP patron further spoke at length about the party’s plan to put a curb on corruption and ensure transparency and accountability in the government sector.
One of the objectives of the new government, he said, must be to meet the growing challenge of unemployment. “We have best skilled and educated youth who are second to none. We just need to channelize their energy and capabilities for which immediate measures need to be taken”, he said.