Srinagar, March 11
The ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is up in arms against its senior leader and State’s Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu for stating that “Kashmir is neither a conflict zone nor a political issue” and warned him to retract the “controversial” statement or face action.
PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmed Mir said that party does not subscribe to Drabu’s statement. Drabu while speaking at an event themed, “Kashmir: the way forward” in national capital organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Friday evening had said, “I don’t see J&K as a conflict state and a political issue. It is a society which has social issues right now. We are trying to find our own space”. The PDP chief spokesman said whatever Drabu has said is not correct and the party contradicts it. “The party has told him to retract the statement. We have written to him to retract the statement,” he said.
Mir said if Drabu does not retract the statement, action would be taken against him. PDP vice president Sartaj Madni also asked Drabu to retract the statement immediately if reported correctly in the media. He said the party recognizes J&K as a political issue and ever since its emergence; PDP has relentlessly been pursuing its resolution through reconciliation and dialogue both at internal and external levels.
Asserting that PDP would follow its agenda with added vigour and sincerity, Madni said, “Any impression of the political issue getting under the carpet can have a very negative impact and spin the situation into another cycle of destabilisation in the region”. The PDP vice president advised all senior party leaders to be careful in their statements and observations while commenting on the basic political philosophy and core agenda of the party.
Another PDP leader and MLC Zaffar Iqbal Manhas said Drabu’s statement challenges the party’s basic stand vis-à-vis Kashmir issue. “If his statement is accepted or deemed to be a stand of the party, then it shakes very foundation of PDP. A single person has no right to abuse the very stance of a party, which came into being on principles of fairness and justice regarding the political issues and rights of the people of State,” he said.
“Drabu should tell people if Kashmir is not a conflict zone, then why we have five lakh army and para military forces stationed in this Kashmir? Are they here playing cricket or Gilli Danda? What does the presence of regular army at every nook and corner indicate,” Manhas said. Opposition National Conference also slammed Drabu for his statement and alleged that PDP is acting as second fiddle of BJP to facilitate the rightwing agenda in the state.
“If Kashmir isn’t a political problem then why is interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma here and why India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947,” NC General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar while addressing a press conference, here. He said arresting of the then Prime Minister of J&K Shiekh Abdullah in 1953 and presence of 6 lakh security personnel in the state was itself a witness that Kashmir is a political problem. “Why did Vajpayee talk to Hurriyat?”
Sagar said NC has always maintained that Kashmir has not completely merged with India and for that a resolution was also passed in J&K assembly. Pro-independence JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik termed Drabu’s statement as clear indication of an “ample specimen of a sold-out mentality and classic example of a person trying to act like a lawyer in politics who has no ideology, faith and ethics but is always ready to present his clients’ wishes and whims.”
He claimed that in 1996, Drabu during his visit to Hurriyat office in New Delhi had praised their efforts for “liberation of Kashmir from occupation of India and suggested several ideas and concepts for carrying forward the struggle”. “Betraying his nation, he renounced separatist movement for petty selfish gain and switched over to other side of the divide and joined mainstream camp. Now he has joined hands with RSS and is serving as main link between PDP and Nagpur now and delivering statements to hoodwink international opinion on Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.