SRINAGAR:The National Conference and separatist politicians in Jammu and Kashmir, who are not happy with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having government formation talks with the BJP, are up in arms against it for ‘softening’ its stand on the settlement of West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) in the state.
Senior PDP leader and MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig said the settlement of WPRs, who are living in the state since 1947, is a humanitarian issue and a middle path must be found to give these people a hope. “There are many Bangladeshi Muslims settled in India. Many Muslims are living in US. Should they be kicked out?,” he said, adding, “Why the US government did not ask Muslims to leave the country after 9/11?”
Baig, who is said to be holding informal talks with the BJP leaders on government formation, said if Pakistan agrees to give WPRs citizenship rights, then the problem will be over.
“But it seems impossible and under these circumstances, some middle path has to be found, keeping in view the J&K’s Constitution and International Humanitarian Laws and human rights.”
Invoking Islamic principles, he said the issue needs to be first understood clearly. “As Muslims, we need to understand what Holy Quran and the Sunnah say about the issue. According to our faith, Allah says all human beings have inherited this earth and there is no mention of citizenship,” he added. Rejecting the notion that settlement of WPRs would affect J&K’s demography, Baig said many non-state residents have settled in the state since 1950.
Baig’s statement indicates a major policy shift of PDP on the WPRs issue. The party had earlier opposed the settlement of WPRs in the State and granting citizenship rights to them as advocated recently by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs. The PDP leader’s statement evoked strong reaction from the National Conference with senior party leader and former minister Ali Mohammad Sagar alleging that the PDP was a creation of BJP.
PDP and BJP, which have emerged as two largest parties in J&K after recently Assembly elections, are engaged in informal talks on government formation in the State after no party got majority in the 87-member House.
“Let the PDP say whether Baig’s statement is his own or the party’s view. PDP shouldn’t keep the people in dark,” he said. Referring to Baig invoking Islamic principles, Sagar said, “J&K is governed by the Constitution and there can’t be any compromise on it. “It is a dangerous game. What BJP leaders couldn’t say themselves, PDP is saying,” he said.