JEHANGIR ALI | 25 JULY, 2016
PDP, NC Call For Dialogue with Pakistan, HM Mum
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti reiterated her call for initiation of dialogue with the Hurriyat and Pakistan over Kashmir issue in her meeting with the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, yesterday.
According to well-placed sources, Mehbooba urged the home minister that the Centre must initiate dialogue on internal and external fronts so that the "problems confronting the state" are resolved permanently.
The chief minister, accompanied by senior PDP leaders, called on Rajnath Singh at the Nehru Guest House in Srinagar where the home minister met with a number of delegations on Saturday and Sunday, including some masked men, believed to be clerics, who were whisked to the venue in ambulances.
Amid high hopes, the home minister, however, failed to strike the right notes in blaming Pakistan for the civil uprising in the Valley and urging the country to "change its attitude" on Kashmir issue during a press conference yesterday.
"The role of Pakistan in Kashmir hasn't been 'paak' (pure). The country is itself affected by militancy while it is asking our youth (in Kashmir) to take up arms Pakistan should change its approach towards Kashmir," he said.
Ruling out any engagement with the Hurriyat at present, Mr Singh said the Centre will talk to "everyone who can play constructive role" in restoring peace in the troubled Valley but only after situation normalises.
“Let normalcy return. We will talk to the chief minister. Then, we will talk to whoever we want to. Whatever has to be done will be done only after talking to the State government. There is no other solution except talks,” he said.
Meanwhile, curfew remains in place in the volatile Valley where another youth and a policeman, who were injured in the ongoing clashes, succumbed yesterday, taking the death toll to 51.
Strict restrictions have been imposed in south Kashmir for third consecutive week to foil the separatists' call of 'Anantnag chalo' today even as normal life remains paralysed across all the ten districts.
Although schools in the Valley were scheduled to open today after the conclusion of extended summer holidays, reports from the capital Srinagar suggest that no school has opened. There are no reports of schools opening in other districts of the Valley.
Meanwhile, top leadership of the regional political parties, including the National Conference, also met the home minister yesterday while as the prominent traders' bodies stayed away, arguing that such a meeting will not help at a time when "maiming and killings of civilians" hasn't stopped.
Ahead of the Rajnath-Mehbooba meeting, the National Conference in a statement yesterday said it has told the home minister that the Centre must initiate sustained dialogue with Pakistan as well as separatists groups for a "mutually acceptable solution" to political issues of the state.
"It would be a travesty to treat the current unrest in the Valley as a mere law and order problem. (Kashmir is) a political problem which requires political engagement both internally and externally," a delegation of National Conference led by former chief minister Omar Abdullah told the home minister yesterday.
At an All Party Meeting last week, the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had also called for a dialogue with Pakistan and the Hurriyat for resolution of the prevailing crisis.
The issue of internal and external dialogue with "all stakeholders" for settlement of Kashmir issue is also part of the governance agenda between the BJP and the PDP. Sources said the chief minister will raise the issue with the home minister during her meeting.
Veteran Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Geelani, who leads the powerful trio of the separatist leadership in the Valley, however, said the visit of home minister doesn't carry any significance .
“Those who have pinned any hope on this visit are living in a fool’s paradise as our 70 years experience with India stands testimony to the fact that they were never sincere and realistic regarding Kashmir,” he said.