Mohammad Sartaj Madni, a senior PDP leader and a two time MLA of Devsar assembly constituency is presently General Secretary PDP. A winner of 2002 and 2008 assembly elections on PDP ticket Madni was Deputy Speaker Jammu & Kashmir Legislative assembly from 2008-2015.
Senior KNS correspondent spoke to Sartaj Madni on a wide range of issues concerning PDP’s alliance with the BJP, the working of PDP-BJP coalition government and the current unrest in Kashmir.
Q: Would you please share the intents of the PDP in forging an alliance with BJP ?
Mohammad Sartaj Madni: Since PDP Patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had launched PDP for facilitating the resolution of Kashmir, the support of the central government was an unavoidable compulsion for PDP determined to work on agenda of dialogue and reconciliation with both Pakistan and as well as the people of Kashmir. Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was a statesman and he never took to vote politics but was always concerned about the future of Kashmir’s future generations. He did not ally with BJP for power and had power been his destiny then National Conference had offered unconditional support and a coalition government could be also formed even in alliance with Congress and other smaller groups. Since Sayeed had launched PDP for resolution of Kashmir the support of the central government was an unavoidable compulsion for PDP determined to work on agenda of dialogue and reconciliation with both Pakistan and as well as the people of Kashmir.
Q: What could be advantages of PDP’s alliance with BJP on dialogue and reconciliation over Kashmir ?
MSM: Former Prime Minister Attal Bihari Vajpayee extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan from a public rally in Srinagar in the year 2003 shows we can have the advantage of working in alliance with BJP on the agenda of peace and reconciliation over Kashmir. Remember Mufti Mohammad Sayeed told Attal Bihari Vajpayee at a public rally in Srinagar in the year 2003 that Kashmir does not want a package but a life with dignity. Vajpayee at the instance of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan from Srinagar rally. Manmohan Singh during his 10 year long Prime Ministerial tenure did not get even a single opportunity to visit Pakistan but the Present Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Pakistan to sit over a cup of tea with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Shariff to convey a message of goodwill and mutual trust. Unfortunately we could not propagate the intents of alliance with the BJP at the grass roots in Kashmir. Our intent of allying with BJP can’t be questioned as Mufti Mohammad Sayeed launched PDP on 28th July 1999 two days after limited war between India and Pakistan on Kargil heights ended on 26th July 1999. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was of the opinion that war is not a solution and here it may reminded to the people that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed fought 1998 Lok Sabha bye election as Congress candidate but on the slogan “na grenade se na goli sey, baat baney gi boli say”. He was pained to see our grounds changing into graved yards and it pains us this time also. Unfortunately Mufti Mohammad Sayeed did not get majority he wanted to change the destiny of the people of Kashmir. If at all we had got the magical number of 44 plus to run a government on our own, even them we were forced to work in tandem with the central government for dialogue with Hurriyat and Pakistan.
Q: Situation in Kashmir itself is an indication that PDP does not get full support from the central government controlled and commanded by BJP. PDP is the ruling party in Kashmir but situation has almost reversed to that of 1990. The atrocities including night raids and arrests of youth under PSA are generating waves of anger against PDP. PDP is a party which had generated lot of goodwill by disbanding SOG, releasing detunes, opening Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road for bus journey, opening trade routes between divided parts of Kashmir from 2002-2005 but now the party has lost all that good will. What could be the future for PDP in Kashmir ?
MSM: If Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s dream on the resolution of Kashmir could be achieved, the anger fueling against the PDP would boil down automatically. PDP is committed to work on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s broader outline of Kashmir resolution. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during her address at Bakshi Stadium on August 15 pledged to punish the guilty. We agree all is not well and we assure that wrong doers won’t go unpunished.
Q: Critics blame the present situation to what they called ‘mishandling after Burhan’s killing’. How would you react to it ?
MSM: Chief Minister Mehbooba Muti did not want to use force to trouble her own people and took a lenient view of the situation. Keeping in view the experience of handling unrest like situations by curfews and restrictions Chief Minister allowed the people to come out but unfortunately situation turned violent.
Q: In 2010 when Omar Abdullah was Chief Minister a top police official Ashok Bhan said that two girls in Shopian were drowned and Chief Minister was embarrassed. This time Chief of the police’s intelligence wing embarrassed the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti by saying that Chief Minister was already informed about the operation launched to kill Burhan. Do you think there were some hidden hands behind the current unrest in Kashmir ?
MSM: The cause of 2010 unrest was Machil encounter and murder mystery of two women in Shopian but this time anti-establishment forces were already trying to trigger unrest in Kashmir. Rumors were abuzz across Kashmir that situation would worsen soon after Eid-ul-Fiter and Burhan killing was only used to trigger the unrest. The attempts of triggering unrest by false propaganda over “sainik colonies”, “Pandit Colonies” and “Industrial Policy” failed but attempt to trigger unrest over the killing of Burhan clicked.
Q: Didn’t PDP stop Kara from quitting ?
MSM: He was on the forefront in forging alliance with BJP but disowned the alliance for personal reasons later . Kara, one of the party’s senior most leader, was supposed to raise louder voices for Kashmir resolution from the biggest law making body of the country. Had he raised voices for Kashmir resolution , his cries would have sent the messages for Kashmir resolution world over. Party never asked him not to talk on any issue in the parliament as party can neither depute nor restrict a parliamentarian from raising the voices for the welfare of the people of his constituency. He did not utter even a single word as ruling party’s Member Parliament during his two year stint as Lok Sabha member.He talked about Kashmir issue in his Shivpora house but not in the Indian parliament where the whole world would love to take his words seriously. I was in touch with him till the last but he left the party for personal reasons.
Q: How do you see the future of PDP-BJP alliance ?
MSM: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was always talking about the possibilities and he had vision about Kashmir issue by conviction. He said PDP allying with BJP was just like north poles meeting south poles and this in itself was an indication that how he understood PDP-BJP alliance . In 2010 unrest Vehicles were burnt down on Srinagar-Jammu national highways but this time no vehicle was attacked and thousands of valley children were admitted in Jammu schools after the unrest crippled education in Kashmir.
Q: Has the government any plans to revive the dialogue process in Kashmir ?
MSM: Shutting doors on the All Party Delegation members was most unfortunate and a big set back to the political engagement in Kashmir. Had separatist opened doors to the all party delegation members, then we would have shown our role. I told the home minister during an open discussion at SKICC Srinagar that many delegations have come to Kashmir in recent years and recommendation were sought from several panels appointed by the central government but failure to implement the recommendations on ground has disillusioned people of Kashmir. Meetings for the sake of meetings won’t bring peace to Kashmir but a result oriented dialogue with the real stake holders is the mother of all resolutions in Kashmir. Shutting down doors on the All Party Delegation members was a big set back to the efforts of dialogue and reconciliation in Kashmir.
Q: During NC rule PDP used to crow much over the disproportionate use of force but now when PDP is in power the harshest methods of disproportionate use of force are in place. Why so ?
MSM: Disproportionate used of force is necessitated by the disproportionate use of force from the other side. Private vehicles are burnt down, houses are set on fire, school buildings are torched. PDP block president’s house was set on fire in a particular area in South Kashmir and the man who provoked people to torch the house though a provocative announcement from a mosque is still missing to evade arrest. This all is happening despite Syed Ali Shah Geelani publicly asking people to desist from such activities but no one is paying heed to the repeated calls of Mr Geelani.
Q: What about the role of National Conference as the main opposition ?
MSM: Unfortunately National Conference could not play role of constructive opposition. The opposition is bound to propose oppose and depose. No opposition leader talked about either restoration of peace or loss of lives during first two months of unrest.
Q: What about Jamat-e-Islami ?
MSM: Jamat-e-islami has its own stand and is trying for resolution of Kashmir as per its own way. Today all are talking about resolution of Kashmir issue through dialogue and reconciliation.
Q: What about your own role in PDP ?
MSM: It wanted to work for the party and I have been granted an opportunity to serve the party as General Secretary. I am satisfied with the responsibility I have been given in the party.
Q: What about revival of PDP in south Kashmir ?
MSM: Many questions were raised before the bye election to Anantnag assembly constituency which Mehbooba Mufti won with a huge margin. Today questions are raised on our fate in the bye election to Anantnag parliamentary constituency. We are facing yet another test in South Kashmir and result of the bye election will reveal our strength in South Kashmir parliamentary constituency.
Q: What about future of agenda of alliance ?
MSM: PDP has forged alliance to get issues resolved in short time but unfortunately crisis erupted in short time. Give PDP a chance, help government restore peace and normalcy. If our points of agreement reflected in the “agenda of alliance” are not implemented, alliance with BJP won’t last long.
MSM: We were already working out some proposals to release detaines but fresh trouble has hindered the process of releasing the detaines. Let normalcy return you will see us working on the release of detaines.