SRINAGAR: J&K political parties outside the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) have expressed mixed response to the alliance’s offer of reaching out to them for consensus on demanding statehood for Jammu and Kashmir before assembly elections are held.
Kashmir Reader contacted leaders of the Congress, Altaf Bukhari’s JK Apni Party, and Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference (PC) to seek their comments on the PAGD statement that it would reach out to other political parties in J&K with a view to take a common position on the issue of restoration of statehood prior to elections.
Congress head GA Mir told Kashmir Reader that the PAGD’s position is the same that was taken by the Congress in the meeting at Delhi with the Prime Minister. “So, it is a good step, but its genesis comes from us. We had stated the same in the meeting but these PAGD members never took the same position post the meeting.”
“Restoration of statehood was our agenda in the meeting, to which the home minister said that delimitation was important prior to that. We said if it is done in a transparent manner, fine, but statehood restoration is a must before elections,” Mir said.
Jammu Kashmir was stripped of its statehood on August 5, 2019. It has since been directly ruled by New Delhi through its appointed administration.
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party chief Syed Altaf Bukhari told Kashmir Reader that he will first examine the sincerity of PAGD’s statement before commenting on it.
“They don’t have one stand. They keep on changing their positions. They did the same in the past. Let me wait and see for how many days it lasts,” he said.
He compared the stand of PAGD with that of a former bureaucrat who was holding charges of financial commissioner as well as chief secretary of JK. “Sometime back, an officer was holding both the charges. About one issue, he had to take a call. So as a financial commissioner, he okayed it, but as the CS, he rejected it. This applies to PAGD,” the former finance minister of JK said.
The Peoples Conference led by Sajad Lone said that they will first wait for the PAGD to approach them. Its spokesperson Adhan Ashraf Mir told Kashmir Reader that the final call on the issue will be taken by the leadership of the party.
“It will be premature to comment until they approach us,” he said.
Kashmir Reader reached out to PAGD’s spokesperson MY Targami for comments. His phone was off.