There is no alternative to talks with Pakistan: Mehbooba

BJP’s alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir PDP today said that India cannot escape from its duty of holding talks with Pakistan at a time when the world is facing threats from terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

“India has to join hands with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Bangladesh if we want to keep terror groups off our shores,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said.

She was replying to a question whether the PDP leadership felt embarrassed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the November 7 rally in Srinagar that he does not require anyone’s advice on Kashmir.

People learn gradually through experience. As you know, Jammu and Kashmir is not like any other state. India’s relations with Pakistan have direct impact on us. When we talk about Pakistan, we are not speaking out of context,” she said.

She said there is no alternative to talks with Pakistan.

“You can avoid it or delay it but ultimately you have do what you have to do like what Sushma (Swaraj) Ji did by going there because we have to fight the menace like ISIS, al-Qaeda.

“Modi ji ko zarurat hai ya nahi but humhe zarurat hai Pakistan se baat karne ki (whether Modi ji needs it or not but we need dialogue with Pakistan) because my state suffers directly due to bad relations with Pakistan.

“At the end, it’s people of Jammu and Kashmir who die in cross-border firing. Onions may keep on coming from Wagah border (in Punjab) but people in Jammu and Kashmir will suffer,” the PDP president said.

“Why do we shy away from talks with Pakistan on Kashmir,” she asked. “Instead of delaying it or avoiding it, we should pull the bull by its horns. As former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said we cannot change our neighbours, we should strive to bridge the gap and build bridges of peace.”

“We know that you require two hands to clap and I think the bigger hand (India) should offer to clap more often,” she said.

Mehbooba downplayed the displaying of ISIS and Pakistani flags in the state and said people should focus on those who are with India. “Nearly 60 to 65 per cent participate in the elections and cast their ballot. There are a fraction of people who don’t want to be with you so it’s better to isolate them by focusing on development of people who have faith in you,” the PDP president said.

On the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, she said there is an agenda of alliance between PDP and BJP. “We want that the reports of Working Group constituted by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be implemented.

“BJP was also part of the report which had recommended repealing of black laws and reduction of Army’s role. There are barely 200 militants left in the Valley which can be handled by the Jammu and Kashmir police. Army needs to change its role and now contribute towards the development of the state,” she said.

On Kashmir Pandits, she said that a composite township was being considered where 50 per cent flats will be reserved for Kashmiri Panidts while the remaining will be given to Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists.

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