JAMMU: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday asserted that democracy, being a battle of ideas, drives its strength from dissent and said the only way to bring lasting peace is through the process of dialogue and reconciliation.
"The mechanisms of coercion and oppression are tested methods, failed to bring any change in the vexed Kashmir scenario," the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.
Dialogue and reconciliation have proved effective to end alienation among the youth and bring considerable change, paving the way for economic upliftment of society, she said.
Mehbooba was interacting with over a dozen delegations of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) office bearers from Rajouri and Poonch districts on the second day of her tour of the Union Territory's Jammu region.
Entering into an alliance with the BJP after the 2014 elections was the most difficult decision for the PDP but it was crucial for an organisation which wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue and facilitate peaceful ties between the two neighbouring countries (Pakistan and India), Mehbooba said.
"The BJP had to leave the alliance and dissolve the assembly in order to achieve its objectives. We led the government on our terms without compromising on any issue pertaining to the people of Jammu and Kashmir," she said.
"It was the efforts of the then chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayed that the border areas of Rajouri and Poonch witnessed peace for the first time after India and Pakistan agreed on ceasefire in 2003," the PDP chief said.
The opening of the Poonch-Rawlakote border not only allowed separated families on both sides to visit each other after decades but also created an opportunity for the people to engage in cross-LoC (Line of Control) trade, she said.
Referring to the decisions of establishing the Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, the Mughal Road, nursing colleges, Mehbooba said that Pir Panchal has always been the key focus of her party.
"Cross-Line of Control (LoC) travel and trade was one of the most significant confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan and every effort was made during my tenure to ensure that the people-to-people contact goes beyond the divided families," Mehbooba said.
The former chief minister alleged that it was unfortunate how the Union government "trampled" every democratic institution in furtherance of its own political agenda, reversing progress on each front in the troubled Jammu and Kashmir.
"The damage has been done beyond repair. Whenever a government is formed in Jammu and Kashmir it will have to start from scratch and regaining trust of people in democracy will be the key challenge for any party coming to power," Mehbooba said.