Minister for Education, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari tells BJP that exclusion of dissent from a dialogue process is against the spirit of democracy. He said that dialogue cannot have a rider or any pre-conditions in a democratic set-up.
Responding to a question asked on the side-lines of his visit to his constituency, Bukhari said dialogue at all levels needs to be inclusive and cannot be conditional.
“Dissent is the essence of democracy. Exclusion of the voices of dissent is against the spirit of a democratic polity. A lack of inclusive dialogue can only add to frustration and over time, generate rejection and more rebellion,” Bukhari cautioned.
The statement from Bukhari is significant as from last few days BJP leaders at various levels have been rejecting talks with separatists.
Bukhari observed that it was former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee who talked about dialogue under the ambit of humanity and now talking about dialogue with a condition, unfortunately, reveals a flip-flop policy on the resolution of Kashmir problem.
He said Kashmir is essentially a political problem that needs a political solution through dialogue and discussions.
“It can’t have an economic solution. I wonder why our Prime Minister, with a historic public mandate, is shying away from his responsibility by not carrying forward the legacy of Vajpayee and a former Prime Minister who said ‘sky is the limit’ on the issue of Kashmir,” Bukhari said.
He urged the Prime Minister to initiate an unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders for a lasting solution to Kashmir problem. “What separates democracy from other political philosophies is the principle and practice of solving differences through inclusive and meaningful dialogue,” Bukhari remarked.
“The national leadership should hold talks with all stakeholders irrespective of their political beliefs and without any preconditions and fulfil its commitment given in black and white in the shape of agenda of alliance.”
He said that despite wars and violence in different forms, Kashmir has remained lingering on since last so many decades and sufferings of people have increased manifold.
“Economic packages have never replaced the political necessities of engagement in Kashmir. We have been witnessing death and destruction that has virtually taken over everything.”
Bukhari said that those who are at the helm of affairs must draw lessons and read the writing on the wall. “They should also understand the serious implications of the situation that is eating into vitals of Kashmir,” Bukhari declared.
He said that PDP forged an alliance with BJP just to resume the halfway left reconciliatory process and initiate talks aimed at resolving the decades’ old political uncertainty.
“PDP believes that inclusive dialogue is the only way out. Unfortunately instead of taking such an initiative, we have been made to believe that central government has a lackadaisical policy with regard to Kashmir. This perception needs to be changed on the ground,” he remarked.
Bukhari said that BJP as a coalition partner of PDP has agreed in principle for the agenda of alliance calling for engagement with all stakeholders and not a section of people. “I think good sense will prevail very soon and the central government will take immediate measures which can balm the wounds and address the injured psyche of Kashmiris.”