Today's Paper

Mufti hails Modi’s offer to Pak.

Telephone call to Sharif ‘a gigantic step’

Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telephone call to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif and offer of talks to Islamabad as a “gigantic step,” Peoples Democratic Party chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said on Saturday that the government should also consider engaging with “dissenters within Jammu and Kashmir,” in a clear reference to the Hurriyat groups.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu in Jammu, the PDP leader, who is likely to become the next Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir if ongoing talks between the BJP and the PDP are successful, said: “You have to engage the people of Jammu and Kashmir, whatever viewpoint there is. We [BJP and PDP] have got a mandate. People have shown faith in the institutions of democracy. And even if there is a dissenting voice, you have to engage it.”

Interpreting the Jammu and Kashmir verdict as “a great opening for people to win hearts and minds,” Mr. Sayeed said, “If it is the vision of the PM of India Mr. Narendra Modi, who has got the verdict and mandate of people to make India a great power, then he has to change the concept.” He was replying to questions about stumbling blocks, including Article 370 and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

While Mr. Sayeed did not name the Hurriyat as the “dissenting group”, sources say the PDP has made talks with separatists, on the lines of the 2004 Vajpayee government-Hurriyat talks a key demand in negotiations. “That is my hope, that the government will engage externally, with Pakistan, and internally [in Jammu and Kashmir],” he added.

Mr. Sayeed’s words are significant as the talks between the BJP and the PDP have entered a crucial stage.

( Full text of interview at )

Recommended for you