Stating that development can't be held hostage to "issues," Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said the situation in Kashmir would normalize when steps are taken to resolve "small as well as big problems." The Chief Minister criticized the separatists for "prolonging" the summer unrest last year in which at least 96 civilians lost their lives in action by security forces.
"The PDP will continue to work for peace in Kashmir. The situation will normalize when both small and big issues are resolved," Mehbooba told PDP workers after laying foundation stone for multi-level car parking at Sheikhbagh, LalChowk, in summer capital Srinagar.
"The dialogue process should start and if the situation improves it will have a positive impact on relations between India and Pakistan."
But, she said, the Government can't wait for the issues to get resolved. "The situation has been such for almost 70 years. We don't want that 2010 or what happened last year should repeat now. We are trying to start the development process in Kashmir which couldn't be taken up during summer," said Mehbooba.
She referred to the decision of separatists of not meeting the members of All Party delegation which had visited Kashmir in September when uprising was at its peak. Some members of the delegation, other than of principal political parties BJP and Congress, had sought to meet the separatists but the latter refused saying the daily killings of civilians by security forces didn't provide a conducive atmosphere for talks.
"A team of people, the cream of India, came here and tried to know their (separatists') viewpoint. I also wrote to them. Had they opened their doors (to the delegation members) the situation might had improved in two to three months instead of five months. It would have sent message across the country that they (separatists) helped to improve the situation," said Mehbooba.
"But unfortunately nobody listened to us that time. We are now working for improvement of the situation," she said.
Without naming anybody, Mehbooba said that during the unrest children of poor were exploited and those who were provoking people didn't come to the front.
"We suffered a lot. We can't compensate loss of lives. The education of our students suffered."
Referring to the controversy that had gripped Kashmir over the media reports about government plans to set up exclusive townships for migrant Pandits in Kashmir, Mehbooba said Pandits were an important component of Kashmir society. "They have been settled at Sheikhpora in Budgam and in Anantnag…There are people who are trying to set Kashmir on fire. The PDP is working for creating conducive atmosphere in Kashmir which can help normalize situation and help India and Pakistan come close," said Mehbooba.
The Chief Minister said her Government would focus on developing Srinagar as an important tourist destination. She said Srinagar has lot to offer to tourists and her government would undertake development process in the summer capital to give a flip to its face.
She said the Government would try to replicate the Leh tourism model in downtown Srinagar wherein each household has developed "guesthouse" for accommodating tourists.
Later Mehbooba laid foundation stone of another multi-level parking at Old State Motor Garages, near press enclave, here. She however refused to speak about the charges leveled by opposition that Chief Minister was "unconcerned about victims of summer unrest" and didn't want to face the opposition on discussion over the killings.
"I will talk about in Assembly," Mehbooba responded to a question.
"You (media men) should have hosted tea for us as it is your press colony," Mehbooba told journalists before leaving the venue.