Kashmir Indepth

Replace Azad Kashmir with a better idea: Mehbooba

SRINAGAR, Dec 14: Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti Friday said that country cannot go back to 1947 and there was a need to replace the idea of ‘Azaad Kashmir’ with a better idea within the frame work of the Indian Constitution.

“We need to replace the idea of Azad Kashmir with a better idea within the framework of the Indian Constitution. We cannot go back to 1947, we have to move forward,” she said in her address to a seminar “Kashmir – The Way Forward” at the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai.  

Mehbooba, who led the PDP-BJP coalition government over two years, said that governance was only possible is there is peace.

“Thank God we are living in a democracy where people are allowed to vote and not cows,” she said. “Kashmiris are the sufferers. Till when will our people keep witnessing this farce of people getting killed? Youngsters are taking up the guns. A 17-year-old boy who played a role in Hyder movie and 14-year-old boy recently got killed after they took up the arms.”

She said that there was total “distrust and disconnect” between people of Kashmir and New Delhi Delhi. “They look inwards or outwards (outside the border) for support. During the time of Vajpayee, the people of Kashmir thought of him as a leader who cared,” she said. “Even Pakistan responded positively resulting in reduction of militancy and ceasefire. Between 2002-05, it was the golden period of Kashmir, since for the first time the CM of Kashmir and PM of India were on the same page. Even Mirwaiz Umar, Yasin Malik, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat went  New Delhi and met Vajpayee.”

She asked New Delhi to make Kashmiris its integral part instead talking only about the land. “Vajpayee did not hand over Kashmir to Pakistan but he realised the pain of Kashmiris. But the Indian leadership is only stuck that Kashmir is an integral part of India without talking about its people. New Delhi has to make Kashmiris its integral part.”

While her party is losing more people in last few days, including former cabinet ministers, Mehbooba said that she feels that SAARC countries are being held hostage to the animosity between India and Pakistan.

“For example, why can’t we have a SAARC Handicrafts University in Kashmir?” she asked. “India is never an issue during Pakistan elections. However, that is not the case in India. It is for the country to rise up, reach the Kashmiris and find a solution. All the SAARC nations must come together and make Jammu and Kashmir a model of cooperation.”

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