People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said the differences between mainstream political parties and separatists had blurred and there seemed a fair amount of consensus on the Kashmir issue.
Speaking at a day-long seminar here, she wondered whether New Delhi was ready to trust the people of Jammu and Kashmir in finding a solution to the issue.
However, there could be no solution without Syed Ali Geelani, who has emerged as the tallest separatist leader. “If he puts stamp on anything, that will work,” she said.
Admitting that her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed might have committed political mistakes in the past, which her party wanted to rectify now, she said the space for Kashmiri people had got shrunk after accession to India.
“While other States grew, we got shrunk as all our trade routes and exit points got closed.” She asked New Delhi to give people an alternative to their demand of azadi.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik asked India and Pakistan to respect national aspirations of Kashmiri people.
“We will respond by taking care of genuine strategic interests of both countries, if they take care of our interests,” he said.
Representatives of various political parties called for building an environment of trust among Srinagar, New Delhi and Islamabad. Social activist Madhu Kishwar asked participants to help Kashmiri Pandits return to their homes.
Initiating the discussion, National Conference leader Mohammad Shafi Uri said the autonomy document presented by his party in July 2000 was not a final one. “If anybody has a better solution, our party is willing to discuss and adopt it,” he added.
He maintained that his party was willing to work with the Opposition PDP as well as with the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and separatists’ groups to evolve a common solution. “We are ready to sit with the PDP to formulate a joint draft,” he said.
Mr. Uri, however, expressed apprehensions over New Delhi’s willingness over holding a dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference, when it rejected or even refused to discuss the NC’s autonomy proposals. He said New Delhi did not trust the Kashmiri leadership. “India is wasting time and energy in Kashmir. There is no follow-up on talks and this has been happening over past 60 years,” he said.
Mr. Uri also asked for immediate resumption of dialogue with Pakistan.
Echoing his sentiment, senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beg said they were ready to work with the NC and the Hurriyat Conference to bring about a workable solution. Articulating his party’s stand, Mr. Beg, however, said constitutional arrangements were not enough to guarantee self-rule or empowerment. “We are in agreement with the NC that trust is the main thing. We may have all the guarantees, but trust deficit can lead us nowhere,” he said.
Senior Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Gani Bhat proposed that the mainstream parties, the NC and the PDP, should sit and join hands with the Hurriyat and the JKLF for a brighter tomorrow.
He called for confidence-building measures including self-governance and demilitarisation to create an environment for a peaceful solution.
“We also want irrelevant borders, free trade and movement besides joint management that is togetherness as next step.”
Member of Parliament Saifuddin Soz said Article 370 was irrevocable and the Congress would always act as a facilitator for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. The Prime Minister had an open mind and the government was willing to discuss the issue with all shades of opinion.