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Autonomy the most relevant solution: Mehbooba Mufti

Opening up Kashmir will give Kashmiris a sense of victory and Pakistan and India have nothing to lose, says PDP leader

Opening up Kashmir will give Kashmiris a sense of victory and Pakistan and India have nothing to lose, says PDP leader

As Jammu and Kashmir completes three years without special constitutional status after August 5, 2019, the former Chief Minister and Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Muftisees the Kashmir problem slipping into more complicated realities, the situation darkening and its solution far from sight.

Thinking back to August 5, 2019, what does this day mean for a party that demanded greater autonomy and proposed a formula of “autonomy” as a final solution?

Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed more powers than any other state in the country. Our Assembly was powerful. We had a Constitution. By all means, we shared our sovereignty. With the stroke of a pen, not only was our Constitution and flag revoked unconstitutionally, but they also overthrew the Indian Constitution, which guaranteed our special status. It was a total betrayal. August 5 will be remembered as the darkest time in Jammu and Kashmir as well as India. Our “self-reliance” proposal is still the most relevant and applicable solution to the Kashmir issue, without infringing on the sovereignty of either country, whether Pakistan or India. .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to contact regional J&K parties in 2021. Why did the process reach an impasse?

We don’t know what the intention behind the meeting was. Was it to appease the United States while Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting India or to try to stave off pressure from the international community. If it were something else, then confidence building measures (CBMs) such as the release of prisoners who did not face serious charges could have become a starting point to move the process forward. process. There are prisoners who were arrested as a preventive measure and on simple suspicion. However, no CBM was taken. I do not regret having met the Prime Minister because they would have otherwise accused me of sabotage. At least I tried.

You recently proposed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi focus more on SAARC and put Kashmir at its center to emerge as a global leader.

Kashmir is a problem and has turned into a battlefield. Being a member of the G-8, G-20 and QUAD does not matter to the people of this continent. Instead, SAARC countries should cooperate with each other. But he is held hostage by the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. If we make pre-1947 Jammu and Kashmir a model for SAARC, open banking branches and a SAARC Horticulture University, it will not be a hindrance but a facilitator of positive relations between the India and Pakistan. I am for more porous borders and increased interaction between parts of ancient Jammu and Kashmir and the restoration of traditional Silk Road links. Pakistan uses the strategic location of this Kashmir to its advantage and also to the advantage of this Kashmir. This part of Kashmir also holds the key to Central Asia. We can be a gateway. It will give Kashmiris a sense of freedom and accomplishment without changing borders. A sense of defeat is hurting Kashmiris and further complicating the problem. Opening up Kashmir will give Kashmiris a sense of victory and Pakistan and India will have nothing to lose.

The government claims that tourism and investment are major indicators that Kashmir is on the path to peace and prosperity after August 5. Do you agree ?

I don’t agree with that. Tourism is a normal activity done by people to earn their bread and butter. This government is contradicting its own narrative of normality by bringing in more troops, cracking down and arresting people, even on August 15. Previously, arrested youths would be released on August 15, but now more youths are arrested before. There is an artificial projection of nationalism like the ‘ Ghar Ghar Tiranga‘ and threaten people with consequences if they don’t raise the flag. I think nothing is normal after 2019. Even political parties, which swear by the Indian Constitution, are being torn down. They are pushed up against the wall and an attempt is made to project them as separatists. Asking for the reinstatement of Section 370 is treated as sedition. Is this normal? People were threatened with silence.

The J&K Boundaries Commission has completed its process. Are there any indicators that an election could be around the corner?

Every day new laws are introduced in Jammu and Kashmir to carry out the nefarious plans to alter the demography of J&K. Local employees were fired and foreigners allowed to apply for jobs. More and more land is given to the security forces and to external industrialists. That was the agenda behind revoking Section 370. They’re dealing with that rather than letting anything come in between. If a government other than the one they want forms, they may not allow it. The Kashmir resolution is the most important thing because people including security forces are being killed daily. An electoral process has a different purpose and can act as a facilitator. People are in a cage and want to get out. Elections come and go, but the Kashmir issue remained a problem.

Why the parties associated with the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) have yet to reach an agreement on the electoral alliance. Local parties say the alliance is now ruled by two dynasties?

The urgency is not there. Let the elections be announced first. The Mufti family, me and my father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, ruled Jammu and Kashmir for five and a half years. This does not mean that our family ran this state like a dynasty. I worked hard and came on my own. My father then had no more power. The BJP has nothing to say and sees the National Conference and the PDP as a threat to their designs. That’s why they try to break up our parties. They incubate new parties and individuals who can follow their narrative. So they try to discredit us by using the expression “to be a dynast”.

BJP says J&K will see a Hindu chief minister?

The BJP looks at Kashmir through the prism of religion and security only. The BJP believed revoking the special status would solve the problem. This was not the case and further complicated the problem. A Hindu chief minister will help them garner votes elsewhere in the country. In the coming days, I see that the BJP will also try to remove the Indian Constitution, which emphasizes the foundation of the country, namely secularism and democracy. Kashmir was a starting point. We are like a laboratory for them. We will not be surprised if one fine morning the tricolor is replaced by the Bhagwa flag. They are working on it and a narrative is being built. When action was taken in Kashmir, unfortunately, the country’s politicians were silent. Now the same methods whether using NIA, ED etc. are being used and politicians are being put behind bars. The rest of the country will taste what we tasted.

Would you agree that world powers have normalized the post August 5 situation in Kashmir?

The silence of world powers has more to do with economics. For them, India is a huge market and they want to have a good relationship with them. On the other hand, China has taken 1,000 square kilometers of our territory. China is a new part in the region. We now have to deal with Pakistan as well as with China. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is complicated at present. In the end, it’s the people that matter. India could be a world leader once it gets its own house in order. Modi has the mandate to become a “Vishwa Guru”. He will have to look into the Kashmir problem and take the bull by the horns. He can do it. Otherwise, history will remember him as the one who dismantled mosques and renamed towns. Kashmir is the best bet for PM Modi. It will be very beneficial for the country. India and Pakistan suffer from more serious problems.

What do you expect from the Supreme Court (SC) as the Section 370 petition is before it.

The SC had issued a decision much earlier on Section 370, describing it as a permanent and non-revocable element. Based on previous SC judgments, no new Public Interest Litigation (PIL) motion should have been granted. The SC hasn’t been following the chops lately. Over three years, the Section 370 petitions have not been heard. People have to fight politically. What we had (the special status) was part of the agreement and was enshrined in the Constitution. If the BJP waits for the Local Assembly to be constituted and pass a resolution (in favor of dismissal), there will be no consequences. It was the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir that was supposed to ratify any changes. It no longer exists now. The Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory has been reduced to a municipality and its resolution means nothing.