Farooq Abdullah the President of the opposition National Conference and a three time former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir is presently Member parliament representing Srinagar-Budgam constituency in the Lok Sabha the lower house of the Indian parliament. Abdullah the senior most mainstream political leader in the state was instrumental in pushing through a resolution for restoration of autonomy to Pre-1952 position during his six year term as Chief Minister (1996-2002). He spoke to Kashmir Magazine on the current political situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the working of the incumbent Mehbooba Mufti led PDP-BJP Coalition Government.
Below mentioned are the main excerpts of the interview
What about the present situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the announcement of unilateral ceasefire?
Unilateral ceasefire was a good decision but without involvement and engagement of Pakistan no peace initiative can work in Jammu & Kashmir. Nine civilians were killed in one single day in border areas in Jammu border and an infant was killed the other day. The situation itself necessitates the engagement and involvement Pakistan for restoration of peace and stability in Jammu & Kashmir Even the normal working of the government is contrary to the expectation of the people of the state. A delegation from Poonch told me that after constructing three buildings of a university in Poonch the government is now thinking about its shifting to some other place and I don’t know that in how many years the government will complete this project. Unfortunately Srinagar master plan has been designed to allow occupation of greet belt areas to the workers of the political presently in power in the state.
What flaws are there in the master plan designed by the government? Can you elaborate please?
The master plan designed by the government is suited to the interests of the people of a political party presently in power. Scope to allow grabbing of vast green belt areas to the workers of the political party in power has been kept wide open and even the Dal catchment area is being damaged for extending chances of land grabbing to the vested interests.
What about ceasefire? Chief Minister has said that Pakistan does not respond well to help restore peace in the state?
Without involvement and engagement of Pakistan and political stake holders of Jammu & Kashmir no peace initiative can work in the state. This is the Vajpayee type of ceasefire. Vajpayee had taken on board both Pakistan and as well as the important stakeholders in Jammu & Kashmir.
Trend among youth to join militancy is on the rise and now even professors and scholars tend to join militancy. What are the reasons of this new growing trend among youth in Kashmir?
The rise of Hindutva in the country has badly hit the heart and minds of youth in Jammu & Kashmir. Youth of Kashmir are beaten ruthlessly in other parts of the country and don’t see their future safe in other states. Diversity has to be strengthening to bring back Kashmir youth from the violent paths.
What about PDP-BJP alliance? Has this alliance led to present situation in Kashmir?
Yes PDP sought votes against BJP and RSS but disrespected the public mandate by sitting with the people against whom they delivered fiery speeches during campaigning in last assembly election. South Kashmir district worst hit by the current phase of unrest had almost enmass voted for the PDP to deny BJP role in the government formation in Jammu & Kashmir.
What about autonomy which is the main plank of your party?
Autonomy is the only solution and both present and future governments will have to concede this demand. Without restoring autonomy the central government can’t restore peace and stability in Jammu & Kashmir.
You passed resolution by two third majority but central government reject it and how do you expect a breakthrough?
Central government did not reject the autonomy resolution but talks were initiated to discuss the issue. Several interlocutor were sent to discuss the issue with stake holders in Jammu & Kashmir and once even top separatist leader Shabir Ahmed Shah was asked to present his points over the issue. Former Prime Minister Narshima Rao once said “sky is the limit” and even Manmohan Singh during his prime ministerial tenure talked about restoration of autonomy to the state.
Do you think successive central government have not kept their promises and betrayed the people of Jammu & Kashmir?
Yes centre has always betrayed us but we have to stuck to our stand and sooner or later the central government has to restore the autonomy once granted to us.
What about Karnatka vis-à-vis the misuse of article 356 by governors?
Not only Karnatka but in Goa and Manipur the BJP did not respect the public mandate. In Goa and Manipur Congress party was in majority but BJP imposed the governments of its own will by allowing horse trading in those states. Thank God Supreme Court delivered justice within 48 hours as otherwise BJP was set to lure the MLAs of other parties and form a BJP government in Karnatka also.
What would be the implications of BJP’s post poll strategy on 2019 parliamentary elections?
People in the country have started uniting against the BJP and results of 2019 Lok Sabha elections will decide what the future of India’s electoral politics could be.
What about healing touch policy of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party?
No healing touch. Show me where is the healing touch? There is electric touch, there are pellets guns blinding the youth. An all party delegation of parliament members had come here and the replacement of pellet guns was our main demand. Even today pellets guns are used and pellets continue to strike deep into the eye of youth.
What political mileage NC would get from the present situation vis-a-vis alienation?
National Conference does not want to get any mileage from the present situation. We want restoration of peace and stability in the state. Situation can’t improve without dialogue with Pakistan and for permanent peace talks with both Pakistan and political stake holders of Jammu & Kashmir including Hurriyat Conference is a must.
Should Hurriyat have welcomed the ceasefire?
I can’t comment on the views of the Hurriyat Conference. Hurriyat Conference has its own views over Kashmir issue and I don’t want to comment on its policies.
Has government failed to deliver?
People are the best judges. You see fuel process have touched sky rocketing heights we too here in Jammu & Kashmir are badly hit. Tourism has been hit and ruined by national media. You see how a fake news about a Pampore incident was splashed by national media just to bring into disrepute the gullible Kashmiris. These are the new tactics of weakening us economically but god is there to take care of us.
What could be the permanent solution to alienation in Kashmir?
Alienation will automatically end the moment Kashmir is resolved. Autonomy guaranteeing self respect to the people of all the three regions Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh is the only solution.
What about propaganda of national news channels on tourism in Kashmir?
National news channels are ruining the Kashmir tourism by continuing its vicious propaganda about the present situation in Kashmir but the government is also not doing anything to promote tourism in the state. See for two and a half hour long Delhi-Banglore air travel we have to pay just Rs 6000, but for just one hour Delhi-Srinagar air travel we have to pay Rs16000 and where is the government of Jammu & Kashmir. In the 1996 the central government has announced special concessions for air tickets to Srinagar, leave travel concession to employees for travelling Kashmir, and special incentives for the conduct of official meetings in Kashmir
Stone pelting is increasing and youth don’t pay heed to calls for restraint, Why?
Youth not in control as they have become masters of their own destiny. They think elders have failed to deliver. I would like to advice them to focus on education as the education is the solution to all problems.
What about the book joint authored by Ex ISI Chief Lt General Asad Durani and Ex Raw Chief A S Dulat?
A very good happening for restoration of normal relations between India and Pakistan. You go through the book and see people working under track-II diplomacy are trying to give good suggestion to both the government for resolution of the contentious issues.
Courtesy: The Kashmir Magazine