Other States

Indo-Pak. dialogue only solution, says Mehbooba

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti looks on after the tricolor fell down during flag hoisting cermony at Bakshi stadium in Srinagar on Monday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad  

In her maiden Independence Day speech, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked both India and Pakistan to restart the dialogue process and urged the BJP-led NDA government to follow in the steps of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“I appeal to Pakistan and India to fight the common enemies like poverty, unemployment, etc. together. There is no way out but to start a dialogue. I also appeal to the political leadership of the country to carry forward the legacy of Mr. Vajpayee,” said Ms. Mufti.

Free trade zone

She drew contours of a solution to the Kashmir problem by asking India and Pakistan to open up borders in erstwhile J&K. “While Mr. Vajpayee talked about insaniyat (humanity) in which a solution lies, (former PM) Mr. Manmohan Singh talked about making borders irrelevant.”

“Let’s make Kashmir a free trade zone, where people are allowed to move freely. Let SAARC open its university here and countries like Nepal open up craft centres. Let the talk of a common currency in SAARC start from this place. My father’s dream was to lay a path for a final solution. I will follow his dream,” she said.

Calling upon parents to “restrain their kids from joining the street protests”, Ms. Mufti said, “Violence has not yielded anything so far. We saw it in 1990, 2008 and 2010. Guns only invite other kinds of guns. Many steps were taken in 2010 but nothing was achieved. This time I promise steps will be taken,” she said in an emotional speech, quoting Kashmiri and Quranic verses.

Children used as shields

Without naming the separatists, the Chief Minister accused them of using “young children as a shield in the protests”.

“I promise justice in cases of excesses. What about those who place kids in the front with the notion that security forces will not act? These kids stop employees from going to offices and women from attending to hospitals. They are among us and they are my piece of heart, but what can one do?”

Ms. Mufti faced a few embarrassing moments when the flag she unfurled fell from the flagpole. An inquiry has been initiated.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 1:49:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Indo-Pak.-dialogue-only-solution-says-Mehbooba/article14571395.ece

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