SRINAGAR: People Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti has reiterated that the BJP-led Centre must announce "confidence building measures" before forming the government with her party in Jammu and Kashmir even as a senior BJP leader said the alliance between the two parties was "intact".

Addressing a gathering of party workers in Jammu's Samba district on Saturday, the PDP chief said "effective development and good governance" is possible in J&K only in an environment of peace and stability for which the Centre must announce confidence building measures.

“Peace and stability is possible only when we revive, with firm resolve and with tangible confidence building measures, the process of reconciliation and engagement in and around Jammu and Kashmir,” Mehbooba said while launching the party’s membership drive in Samba district.

Her remarks come at a time when the state has slumped into political crisis following the demise of the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 which brought down curtains on the highly unpopular PDP-BJP alliance that ruled the state for ten months.

However, senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister of J&K, Dr Nirmal Singh, said the alliance was "intact" and the two parties are moving ahead to form the government.

"People want an elected government in office as they have suffered a lot during the previous regime. It took two months to prepare the 'Agenda of Alliance' and I think that the government should be formed without wasting time," he said.

Hinting that her party was ready to form the government with the BJP, the PDP chief praised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking steps to normalise relations with Pakistan, noting that the people of J&K suffer enormous human and economic losses because of the hostility between the two countries.

“While people living along the borders in Jammu region suffer and live under the constant threat of cross-border shelling, the people in Kashmir valley are suffering because of the continued internal strife and recurrent violence,” she said.

Mehbooba said peace along the borders in Jammu region and Kashmir is key to development and progress of the state.“There was not only peace along the borders from Kathua to Kargil, during that golden era between 2002-2005, but the situation in Kashmir valley had also started turning for good after witnessing a long gloomy era of death and destruction,” she said.

Lashing out at the Congress and National Conference, she said the JKLF chief, Yasin Malik and Hizb supremo, Syed Salahuddin, would have been part of the mainstream camp, had the two parties not joined hands to deny them political space.

Salahuddin and Malik were associated with the Muslim United Front (MUF), which contested the controversial elections in 1987 whose rigging became a tipping point for the armed insurrection in Jammu and Kashmir. MUF's flag - pen and ink-pot emblazoned on a green background, is the party symbol of PDP.

“We shall have to ponder over the emerging situation in the state and go deep into the reasons for mounting alienation especially among the educated youth. Concrete measures shall have to be taken to address the causes of alienation and cynicism and at the same time revive the process of intra-state and inter-state reconciliation, which was the dream of Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) sahab who wanted to take the peace and resolution process started between 2002 and 2005 to its logical conclusion,” Mehbooba said.

The PDP chief said the Kashmir issue should not be seen through the security prism alone and the country needs to invest in J&K’s peace and own and acknowledge the pain and sufferings of the people.

“The ordinary people of India need to participate in handholding Kashmiris to give them a sense of belonging. When we talk of Jammu and Kashmir being an integral part of India, we need to go beyond the ownership of land. People of Jammu and Kashmir should not be given to feel that their dignity is being undermined,” she said.

Mehbooba said addressing the genuine political, economic and security concerns of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is an issue which goes beyond power politics and requires decisive political will.

“We shall have to take decisive confidence building measures to end the gloomy scenario of despair and alienation the state has been once again pushed into. The most daring challenge for PDP is to be with the people and show solidarity with them and the party is committed to its resolve of working for peace, stability and development of Jammu and Kashmir.," she said.

The state is under Governor's Rule since January 8 as Mehbooba, who was tipped to become the first women chief minister of the state, did not stake claim to form the government. Amid deepening political crisis, the PDP chief yesterday dropped hints of going ahead with BJP in government formation, saying she was "not afraid" of criticism over allying with the Hindu rightwing party but wanted the Centre to send out a "signal" that it will do "everything" for the welfare of people of J&K.

(Photograph: BASIT ZARGAR)