J&K is crown of India, says Mufti

SRINAGAR: Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday said the new government in New Delhi must extend a hand of friendship to Pakistan and hold dialogue with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat Conference, to resolve the Kashmir issue.
“The new government will have to extend a hand of friendship to Pakistan…There is no alternative…It will also have to engage with all shades of opinion in the state including Hurriyat if it wants to resolve the Kashmir issue,” PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed told reporters at a news conference here.
Mufti, who was releasing the party’s manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, said the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken “several good initiatives” to address the problems of the state which were carried forward during the early years of the UPA government.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held two round-table conferences, Working Groups were formed. One of the Working Groups headed by now Vice-President Hamid Ansari recommended the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) while another headed by C Rangarajan recommended return of some power projects to the state…However, these initiatives were not taken to logical conclusion,” he said.
Mufti said that there “is a trust deficit between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country and the people from the Valley are always looked at with suspicion.”
“This has to change. Jammu and Kashmir is the crown of India…The head of the country is suffering in pain and it has to be addressed,” Mufti said, while reading out highlights of his party’s agenda for the Lok Sabha polls.
“If elected, the PDP candidates shall make Parliament a forum for representing the state’s issues at the national level,” he said.
“They will drive, persuade and convince all the political parties of the country to have a common minimum programme on Jammu and Kashmir. They will be guided by the Self-Rule document during the debates and strategies in and outside Parliament,” he added.
The PDP, according to its manifesto, “will seek changes in the country’s foreign policy and the conduct of diplomacy in respect to Jammu and Kashmir.”
“We will build a momentum on these issues by having a special session of Parliament on J&K. We will also seek one-time settlement of the refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir in Jammu,” the manifesto reads.
It also said that the party will seek a full-fledged Jammu and Kashmir Affairs Ministry which shall be development-oriented rather than being security-oriented.
The other important points in the manifesto are review of the hydro policy of 2008, seeking classical language status for Kashmiri and setting up of an equal opportunities commission as part of PDP’s minority advocacy.
PDP has fielded party chief Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh in Baramulla, Tariq Hamid Karra in Srinagar, Yashpal Sharma in Jammu, and Arshad Malik in Udhampur.