Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today called for a collective effort to reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth, to expand and consolidate the constituency of peace in the State.
“To achieve sustainable peace in the State and the region, we have to unshackle the political thinking from the legacies of the past and have confidence in our self, our institutions and above all our people,” Ms Mehbooba said while interacting with the Civil Society members here today.
Minister for Revenue, Relief & Rehabilitation, Syed Basharat Bukhari and legislators Javaid Hassan Beigh and Mohammad Abbas Wani were present during the interaction.
The Chief Minister said the country’s policy on Jammu and Kashmir should not be based on strategic and security considerations alone but on ideological and humane values. “If we were to base our J&K policy on the ideological values of democracy, rule of law and tolerance, which have been the defining strength of India, we will expand the constituency of peace at the micro level of individuals as well as institutions,” she said and added indeed, immediately after the assembly election of 2002 this is what was done.
Mehbooba said in 2002, the state government taking the confidence building steps and the union government endorsing it resulted in local stakes in peace process growing manifold. “The significant political, economic initiatives taken at that time meant wider grounds feel of peace process in the state, which was seen, felt and heard,” she said and added that the opening of routes of travel and trade across the LoC between the two parts of the state was a step of unprecedented wisdom and courage that the two countries displayed.
“The opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad or Poonch-Rawalakote roads, or allowing of travel on permit and not passport basis, it all added up to a collective political engagement and consequent reduction in the structural and individual alienation,” Ms Mehbooba said and added that the overall atmosphere during that period was that of relaxation and reconciliation and Kashmir had started radiating peace rather than war cries across the borders. “Sadly it was let slip away in the absence of continued efforts,” she maintained.
Mehbooba said while J&K does have a special position in the Indian Constitution, it deserves a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of the whole country. “We need to reach out to the people in J&K to address their concerns and aspirations and win their hearts and minds,” she said.
Denouncing the violence in all its forms and manifestations, the Chief Minister said resorting to violent means to achieve political objectives is not only ineffective, but meaningless and destructive. “People must understand that by resorting to violence, they are working against their own interests,” she said and added that besides loss of precious human lives, violence destroys the very socio-economic fabric of a society, which is unfortunately happening in Kashmir.
“While the separatists may be having their own ideologies, but the present law and order situation seems to have been exacerbated by some vested interests, having their own interests to take care of by perpetuating violence,” she said and added that people have had very high expectations from her government, “but we need time and space to show progress on the commitments made by us as have been enumerated in our Agenda of Alliance,” she said.
Calling for introspection, the Chief Minister said that the people have to ponder over how the educational, economic and social structure of Kashmir is being systematically ruined because of the prevailing law and order situation. “We have to see why such awful situations are being always triggered in Kashmir when the economic activity starts picking up as had happened this summer with encouraging tourist arrivals,” she said and added that there seems to be larger design behind such orchestrated eruptions to push Kashmiris into perpetual educational and economic deprivation and social disorder. “We have to mull over that how long it is going to be like this for the hapless people here,” she asked.
Reiterating that the issues can be resolved only through dialogue and not through violence, the Chief Minister said violence has been rejected globally as a means to achieve political objectives. “The proponents of violent protests in Kashmir must also engage in dialogue to resolve the issues instead of perpetuating violence which has only brought death and destruction on their own people,” she said and added that Kashmir has already lost a generation of youth to the violence and can’t afford to bear with this tragic human loss for ever. She said everyone should “feel the pain” of the future generation.
Calling for special focus on youth development, the Chief Minister said the youth have to be singled out as a target group deserving specific attention. She said the kind of a violent situation J&K has gone through, over the past two decades, has deeply affected our society as a whole and our youth in particular. “Young people have been particularly affected by the collapse of education and employment opportunities in the State,” she said and added that the Government will launch a process, which will prepare young people to meet the challenges of future through a series of coordinated, progressive programs and activities.
The Chief Minister said the Government shall have to consider new ways to involve youth and allow them to offer input during decision-making, problem solving, and action-taking activities. “Active collaboration with youth will engage them in ways that will open doors for them to contribute,” she said and added it is ironic to note that while on one side our bright young boys and girls are making us proud by qualifying prestigious competitive examinations and getting admission in reputed educational institutions in the country, on the other hand some youth belonging to poorest of the poor families are being exploited and handed over stones instead of pen. “Everyone should feel the pain of our future generation and try to do something for them,” she said.
Earlier speaking at an officers meeting here, the Chief Minister asked the administration to expedite implementation of the developmental and welfare programmes so that people get the much-needed reprieve. She also asked the district officers to work with the local civil society representatives and ensure that the people don’t face any hardships amid prevailing situation.