JAMMU: Terming resumption of dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad as "inevitable" for peace in south Asia, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the hand of friendship to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan for skae of Kashmir.
The Peoples Democratic Party president also appealed to the Prime Minister to follow the steps of late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to revive the peace process between the two neighbours.
Peace in south Asia will only be possible if it is ensured in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP president said, addressing a public meeting in border district of Rajauri.
Urging Modi to extend the hand of friendship to Khan and pick up the peace process from where Vajpayee had to leave it, Mehbooba said, "It will usher a new era of growth and tranquillity in the two countries."
If it's done, the people would no longer live in constant fears and heave a sigh of relief, she said.
She said opening new roads between "divided Jammu and Kashmir" and strengthening the people-to-people contact would lower the tension across the border.
Terming dialogue and reconciliation between India and Pakistan as "inevitable for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, Mehbooba said, "The two countries need to rise above ego and exhibit the political astuteness to help realise the people's dream of a peaceful and tranquil Jammu and Kashmir."
Asserting that economic packages alone would not usher peace in the Valley, she said consistent and earnest efforts aimed at taking youths into confidence are needed "to stop them from going adrift".
The economic packages alone are not going to resolve the issue. The roads, bridges and electricity are vital for the people, but unless there is dialogue aimed at the resolution of the conflict, no relief can be ensured for the masses, she said.
She said after the 2014 polls yielded fragmented mandate, PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed decided to form government with the BJP with "the sole motive to reincarnate the Vajpayee era" in the state and to stop the vicious cycle of unabated killings and violence.
As I told my father that the decision to join hands with the BJP has more risks than rewards and would decline party's popularity, he said he was ready to sacrifice everything including his life, if that resolves the decades-old conflict, Mehbooba said.
Her father was confident that the reconciliation and dialogue would be initiated, and the measures taken during Vajpayee's era would be replicated once again, she added.
However, when Prime Minister Modi addressed a rally in Srinagar on November 7, 2015 , he announced Rs 80,000 crore package but exhibited no willingness for a thaw between India and Pakistan for the peace in the state.
This disheartened everyone including the people who had come from far-flung areas to listen to him," she said.
The PDP chief said even after witnessing hurdles in his way, her father remained adamant to get the two countries closer and always pitched for the dialogue which were desperately needed for peace in the state.
When I took over as the Chief Minister and headed the state for two years and two months, I did not compromise on my stand and stood like a rock before the Central government to protect state's special interests.
Had I shown any laxity in my approach, the BJP would not have toppled the government. They did not succeed in any way to make me barter the interests of the state for petty power and I can tell you with all certainty that I kept the honour and dignity of my people intact," she said.
Referring to the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua district in January this year, Mehbooba said she went to New Delhi and made it clear that the PDP cannot be the part of the government unless the two ministers who had openly supported the rapists were sacked and a transparent probe was allowed.
As the Chief Minister of the state, I remained in the forefront to thwart attempts to intimidate Gujjars and Bakerwals in the state and took every measure to ensure that no one harms them, she said.
Mehbooba said preserving the secular character of the state has been the top most priority of the PDP since its inception.