STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: Ahead of the by-polls in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday raked up the issue of revocation of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some areas and “see the impact”.
Mufti, who has taken a strong position against militants, pitched for revocation of AFSPA, saying she required a “window of peace” for ensuring good governance to “shrink the space” occupied by militants.
She said PDP and BJP had come together on an Agenda of Alliance which included revocation of AFSPA.
“We should not shy away from revocation of AFSPA. When things improve, why not?” she said.
“We don’t shy away when situation goes bad. We don’t shy away from calling more forces…we ask army to be more proactive, but when the situation improves, we should not shy away from the fact we need to start revocation of AFSPA from some places and see what is the impact,” she said while addressing a seminar on counter terrorism here.
The conference is being organised by India Foundation, a think tank run by Shaurya Doval, the son of National Security Advisor A K Doval. Four Union Ministers and BJP leaders, including party general secretary Ram Madhav, are on its board. She also said when the situation improves, there was a need for shifting security camps “away from public”.
Referring to her brother Tassaduq, who has been declared PDP candidate for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat vacated by her, Mufti said her brother “wants to see our kids chasing birds and butterflies rather than have stones in their hands”.
Tassaduq is a cinematographer and has been part of Bollywood hits like ‘Omkara’.
Mufti appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for initiating talks with “all stakeholders” for a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem.
“We need to have dialogue as was done by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I am sure our present Prime Minister, who has the moral authority, will take steps at the earliest. We have a bold leadership at this point of time,” she said.
“We have used pellet guns, guns, hand grenades, teargas.
We can’t continue with that. They (the protesters) are part of India. Kashmir is the jewel in India’s crown,” she said.
Appealing for a “window of peace”, she said, “Good governance helps in shrinking the space of terrorists. Please give me that.”
By-polls for Anantnag parliamentary and Srinagar assembly seats are slated for April 12 and 9 respectively.
Praise for Vajpayee and his Kashmir policy dominated the 25-minute speech of the Chief Minister at the seminar which was moderated by the state’s Governor N N Vohra.
“Terrorism is the biggest threat that the whole world is facing but unfortunately the countries which are fighting terrorism are not fighting it together,” she said, adding “there is shadow boxing going on between the various super powers to get the hegemony over the world,” Mufti said.
By way of explanation, she spoke about China blocking India’s attempts to name Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist under a UN convention.
“I will come to my own country. And we have been facing terrorism and there is again this kind of shadow boxing that is going on between us, China and Pakistan and so and so.
“We have been trying so hard for so many years to declare certain people, certain groups who have really inflicted a lot of pain on us as wanted terrorist but again China comes to the rescue,” she said without naming Azhar, blamed for many terrorist attacks in India.
“Vajpayee’s extending of hand of friendship was reciprocated from the other side. We had a ceasefire that lasted for many many years. We had a dialogue process,” she said.
She also favoured opening of new routes between the two countries and asked India to respond to Pakistan’s offer for joining the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Chief Minister said fostering cooperation across LoC would not only bring political stability across the region but the stakes of local people in peace would also get enhanced.
“It would make the region a hub of emerging economic opportunities leading to cooperation in trade, commerce, tourism, adventure etc. across the region”, she added. She also sought opening of historic routes in the State including Jammu-Sialkote route to give the local people a stake in peace and development.
Describing Jammu and Kashmir as the gateway to Central Asia, Mehbooba Mufti said it could become a corridor of economic activity in the region, and the country could take huge benefit of the economic activities going on across LoC.
Chief Minister also spoke to union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh and took up the issue of disruption of trading activity at Trade Facilitation Centre, Chakkan da Bagh following cross LoC shelling three days ago.
The Chief Minister urged early resumption of the trading activity at the Centre as the livelihood of a large number of local traders is dependent on the business activities at the TFC.
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