All Party Meet calls for national initiative to address problems

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As an uneasy calm prevailed in violence-hit Kashmir, an All Party Meeting today called for a national initiative to address problems confronting the state and an “inclusive engagement of all the stakeholders” to carry forward peace and reconciliation process.

The meeting, convened by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, was however boycotted by opposition National Conference. The five-hour long meeting here while discussing the prevailing law and order situation in Kashmir Valley took note of the empathy and sense of solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir reflected during the debate on the prevailing situation in the State in both Houses of Parliament, an official spokesman told reporters.

“The meeting calls for converting this political consensus into a national initiative for addressing the problems confronting Jammu and Kashmir and its people,” he said, adding the meeting called for “inclusive engagement of all the stakeholders” in Jammu and Kashmir for carrying forward the peace and reconciliation process in the State.

The spokesman said the meeting expressed deep grief and concern over the loss of life and injuries caused during the law and order situation prevailing in the Valley since July 8 — the day when Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani was killed. The unrest has claimed 43 lives and injured over 3,400 others. The meeting also observed a two-minute silence to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the law and order situation, the spokesman said.

The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the leaders of all the political parties for their presence to deliberate over the prevailing situation. She, however, expressed dismay over the non- participation of the NC at the meeting. “I had spoken to NC working president, Omar Abdullah, myself last evening and requested him to attend the meeting,” Mehbooba said, adding the presence of the leaders of the largest opposition party in the State would have added value and substance to the meeting. In a two-page letter to senior Minister of PDP Abdul Rehman Veeri, the NC yesterday said in absence of any “credible, effective and humane leadership” in the state, an all party meeting was a “futile” and “meaningless” exercise.

Leaders of various political parties–Pradesh Congress Committee president G A Mir, CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami, Panthers Party president Harshdev Singh, Peoples Democratic Front leader Hakim Mohammad Yasin, Democratic Nationalist Party leader Ghulam Hassan Mir, Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Sanjay Saraf, Awami Ittehad Party leader Sheikh Abdul Rashid, CPI leader A R Tukroo and BJP State president Sat Sharma also spoke at the meeting. Talking to reporters outside the meeting hall at SKICC, Tarigami said the situation in the Valley was “grim” and it was “essentially a political unrest” that needed a political response.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister called for taking all the stakeholders on board as part of a politically-inclusive agenda to address the problems confronting Jammu and Kashmir. She also called for reviving the dialogue process with Pakistan to ensure peace and stability in the region.

“The country’s political leadership shall have to take on board all the stakeholders and pursue an agenda which is politically-inclusive and developmentally-intensive to address the challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir internally and externally,” the Chief Minister said while speaking at the All Party Meeting convened here today to discuss the prevailing situation in the State.

The Chief Minister said the State Government would act as a facilitator for resolving the problems and challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir if tangible steps are taken to reach out to all the stakeholders. “A new course for Jammu and Kashmir can be chalked out only by reaching out to all the stakeholders including the youth who have to pay a huge price because of the uncertainties plaguing the State for the past more than six decades,” she said and added that alternatives shall also have to be found to existing crowd control methods to ensure that the youth don’t get killed or maimed in such situations. “I am especially pained by the grievous eye injuries caused to some youth because of the pellets guns,” she said and added that this cruel method of crowd control will have to be done away with, sooner the better.

The Chief Minister hailed the commitment of the doctors, the paramedical staff and the nurses in reaching out to the needy amid prevailing crisis situation. “I salute the dedication of our doctors, paramedical staff and the nurses for working with great commitment amid trying circumstances and saving as many lives,” she said and added that the government would provide every possible help to the injured so that they can to live their life as productive citizens. She broke down while talking about the deceased and the injured.

The Chief Minister said the people of Jammu and Kashmir can’t live with the pain and suffering forever and tangible measures shall have to be taken to address their concerns and aspirations. “The suffering voices of people of J&K shall have to be heard and substantive confidence building measures taken to address the alienation and reduce trust deficit,” she said and added that a beginning in this regard can be made by implementing the recommendations of the five Working Groups constituted by the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in 2006 and reiterated in the PDP-BJP ‘Agenda of Alliance’.

Ms Mehbooba said the recommendations of these Working Groups comprehensively deal with almost all the aspects of the problems confronting Jammu and Kashmir including Centre-State relations, strengthening relations across LoC, Confidence Building Measures across segments of society in J&K, Economic Development of Jammu and Kashmir and ensuring Good Governance.

The Chief Minister said her Government strongly believes that nothing is valid and should be happening for Jammu & Kashmir except with the active involvement of its people. “However, the people from all shades of the political opinion shall have to evolve a consensus on a pragmatic and workable solution of the problems confronting the State in the interest of peace and stability,” she said and added that the time has come to strike a new benchmark in light of the global and regional realities for the resolution of the State’s problems.

Expressing anguish over the loss of precious lives and injuries in ongoing law and order situation, the Chief Minister said while the uncertainties and recurrent turmoil has adversely affected almost all the spheres of society in the State, the youth become its specific target as the violence has consumed nearly an entire young generation. She said the society can’t afford to lose more youth now, and measures have to be taken to safeguard their lives and future. “The need, therefore, is not only to safeguard the precious lives of the youth but to create increasing opportunities for them to develop their personality and their functional capability and make them economically productive and socially useful,” she said and added that such opportunities have to be created on a large scale, to cover a wide spectrum of areas of the human endeavor.

Reiterating her Government’s resolve to work for the larger welfare of the State’s youth, the Chief Minister said the Government is working on a policy to have productive role for the State’s youth, which would be further concretized through various practical initiatives. “I strongly believe that the youth of Jammu & Kashmir have the right to seek meaningful employment, freedom of expression, participation in decision-making that affects their lives, and protection from socio-economic and political exploitation,” she said and added this requires a determined effort of lending economical, social and political support to the young people, both men and women equally.

The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the leaders of all the political parties for their presence in the meeting to deliberate over the prevailing situation. She, however, expressed dismay over the non-participation of the National Conference in the meeting. “I had spoken to NC Working President, Mr Omar Abdullah myself last evening and requested him to attend the meeting,” she said and added that the presence of the leaders of the largest opposition in the State would have added value and substance to the meeting.

The Chief Minister briefed the meeting in detail about the situation and the measures being taken on political and governance fronts to restore calm. She sought the cooperation of all the stakeholders in restoring peace in the State to prevent further loss of lives.

Cutting across the divide, the political leaders assured their full cooperation in restoring calm and peace and the state. “All of us are concerned over the prevailing situation in Kashmir, especially the loss of human lives and it should be our endeavor to contribute towards restoration of peace, they said.

Earlier, the meeting observed two minutes silence to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the law and order situation prevailing in the State since 8 July 2016.

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