At all-party meet, clamour for Indo-Pak dialogue

Chairing the All-Party Meeting here on Thursday, amid killings of 44 civilians in forces’ action and raging protests across Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti stressed on the need for taking all “stakeholders on board” for addressing the problems confronting J&K even as she called for revival of Indo-Pak dialogue process to ensure peace and stability in the region.
At all-party meet, clamour for Indo-Pak dialogue
GK Photo

Chairing the All-Party Meeting here on Thursday, amid killings of 44 civilians in forces' action and raging protests across Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti stressed on the need for taking all "stakeholders on board" for addressing the problems confronting J&K even as she called for revival of Indo-Pak dialogue process 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 meeting which was convened to discuss the prevailing situation in the State.

The meeting, which lasted for five hours, called for carrying forward peace and reconciliation process while emphasizing that New Delhi should take an initiative in this direction.

The Chief Minister said the 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: "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," Mehbooba said, as she broke down during her speech. "This cruel method of crowd control will have to be done away with, sooner the better."

The Chief Minister said people of J&K can't live with 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, adding 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'.

"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. "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 loss of lives and injuries, 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, and measures have to be taken to safeguard their lives and future.

The Chief Minister however evaded media after the meeting, saying the "resolution is being prepared."

Briefing the media about the meeting, the Government spokesman Naeem Akhter said it took note of the "empathy and sense of solidarity" with people of J&K reflected during the debate on the prevailing situation in the State in both  Houses of the Parliament.

"The meeting called for converting this political consensus into a national initiative for addressing the problems confronting the State and its people," Akhter read from the resolution that was adopted by the meeting.

The meeting expressed "deep grief and concern" over the loss of lives and injuries caused during the "prevailing situation" in the Valley.

"Every party expressed views on current situation and the reasons behind such flare up which have been happening unfortunately for so many years. The main emphasis of the discussion was how to prevent recurrence of this kind of situation in future," said Akhter.

While the forces have been accused of using "excessive force" on the protestors which has resulted in high number of deaths and injuries, the meeting called for "restraint from all sides".

The meeting was however boycotted by National Conference which had said that in absence of any "credible, effective and humane leadership" in the State, an all party meeting was a "futile and meaningless" exercise.

"Unfortunately the National Conference didn't participate in the meeting which is a regrettable fact," said Akhter, adding the Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the leaders of all the political parties for attending the meeting to deliberate over the prevailing  situation.

Mehbooba, however, expressed dismay over non-participation of National Conference from the meeting. "I had spoken to NC working president, Omar Abdullah, myself last evening and requested him to attend the meeting," said Mehbooba, adding: "The presence of the leaders of largest opposition party would have added value and substance to the meeting."

Leaders of various political parties who attended the meeting emphasized upon the need for engaging leaders of "different shades" for long term solution to Kashmir issue.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, State Congress President GA Mir said the meeting was "short term measure" to try and restore peace in Kashmir.

"But ultimately, leadership from all shades have to be engaged for evolving a long lasting political solution to the (Kashmir) issue," said Mir, demanding that the Government should convene special Assembly session to discuss present unrest and evolve a consensus about resolving the situation politically.

"As an opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti was more active. But as the Chief Minister she is invisible which is surprising."

Terming the situation in Kashmir as "grim" CPI-M State head MY Targami said it was "essentially a political unrest" which needed a political response.

"We hope the government of India understands these realities and faces them," he said. "What has happened till now is there is flare up which is extinguished, people get killed, it is discussed and then the same story is repeated. If that happens, I am afraid, there will be bigger troubles ahead."

Targami cautioned the Government should not rely exclusively on security forces to deal with the situation.

Peoples Democratic Front Chairman Hakeem Muhammad Yasin the Kashmir issue wasn't only about employment and development.

"I told the meeting that Kashmir is a core issue since 1947 which needs to be addressed," Yasin said.

He said it wasn't for the first time that an All Party Meeting has been called to discuss the situation in Kashmir.

Expressing "dismay over the outcome" of the Meeting MLA Langate Er Rashid said it seemed to be an attempt to "appease powers in Delhi" rather than a serious effort to address problems in Kashmir.

"For announcing free ration, you need not to convene an All Party Meeting; this is the mockery which is reason for increasing disillusionment of the people," he said

'PDP, BJP faces heat'

The coalition partners, PDP and BJP came under sharp criticism from the opposition including Congress and NPP, who charged its ministers of "being irresponsible" towards the Kashmir situation and being "mute spectator" while the Valley was burning.

Sources said that former ministers, Sham Lal Sharma of the Congress, Harsh Dev Singh of NPP and leaders from other parties accused the BJP ministers of being "irresponsible" saying that they were staying in Jammu while Kashmir was burning.

"While Kashmir was burning and people were getting killed, the ministers were hiding and issuing transfer orders", they said.

 "We told the Chief Minister that BJP ministers didn't bother to visit Kashmir and majority of them were hiding in Jammu, while Kashmir was witnessing widespread protests and people were getting killed", Harshdev Singh said.

Other leaders who participated in the meeting included Democratic Nationalist Party leader Ghulam Hassan Mir, Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Sanjay Saraf, , CPI leader A R Tukroo and BJP State president Sat Sharma.

'NC denies'

National Conference spokesman denied that the Chief Minister had spoken to its working President Omar Abdullah and said "it is yet another lie in the cap of the State Government" and said the marathon meeting had "produced nothing".

"It is on their agenda of alliance that talks with all stakeholders including Pakistan and Hurriyat should be held. So we want to know what they have done in this connection for last two years," the NC spokesman said.

Today, the State Government is again knocking on the doors of New Delhi and the most astonishing fact is that the state Chief Minister, who chairs the Unified Command, was not able to pass an order for stopping the use of pellet guns and has conviently passed it on to Union Home Minister.

"Our decision not to attend the meeting was absolutely right as the meeting was yet another eyewash by the present indecisive government," the spokesman said. (with inputs from PTI)

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