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Road to Become ‘Vishwaguru’ Goes Through J&K and SAARC, Not G7, G20 or Quad: Mehbooba Mufti

Anees Zargar |
In a public rally in Srinagar, the PDP leader lashed out at BJP for not making efforts to solve the Kashmir issue.
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File Photo.

Srinagar: Senior politician and president of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said that India’s route to becoming a vishwaguru or world leader goes through Jammu and Kashmir.

Training her guns at the Central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said until the Kashmir issue was resolved, it would clog the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ambition of leading the world.

“India can become a vishwaguru because it has democracy and secularism to earn the title, but you are ravaging it. You should put your own house in order and only then this dream can be realised,” Mehbooba said, training guns at Modi and his party.

The former BJP ally, who during the PDP-BJP coalition government in the erstwhile state of J&K between 2014 and 2018, was addressing a rally at Lal Chowk area of Srinagar, which was attended by over 2,000 workers and party members. The rally was held to mark the party’s 23rd foundation day and came only days after BJP held a rally in the city centre in what many saw as ‘groundwork’ for the Assembly elections.

Senior PDP leaders also addressed party workers and reiterated what they termed as their commitment to finding a resolution to the Kashmir issue, on which the leaders said, the party was founded.

Mehbooba Mufti also pitched for rekindling Indo-Pak relations and developing relations between countries under South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an eight-member grouping that includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

She said the biggest impediment in engagement within SAARC was the relationship between India and Pakistan that needed to be restored.

“India is still unable to lead its own neighbours like Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and other countries in SAARC. India should realise that the way to become a vishwaguru goes through SAARC and not through G7, G20 or Quad,” she added.

The former CM said that PDP was not just a party but a “movement” against injustices, recalling how its founding leader Mufti Sayeed had convinced former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to initiate a dialogue with Hurriyat leaders like Yasin Malik, who is currently in jail, Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah and also with Pakistan.

Mehbooba said she would continue to talk about Pakistan till the time there were 10 lakh forces stationed in the region. She also called for engagement with the much-hyped China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“J&K has the potential to become a gateway to Central and South Asia and should be made into a model state for SAARC cooperation. Why can't this part of Kashmir become strategic to the world like Pakistan and China have done to their respective parts of Kashmir," she said.

Lashing out at BJP, the PDP leader reminded the party’s leaders that they would not be remembered in history for demolishing mosques and changing names of roads and cities but only for resolving the Kashmir issue, if they do so.

While giving a clarification for stitching an alliance with BJP, the PDP leaders, including Mehbooba, said it was aimed as an embankment against BJP's plans. “My father (Mufti Sayeed) realised that BJP was going to stay for long, and it was necessary to engage with them to secure our interests," she said.

Responding to the ongoing controversy over hoisting the tricolour (Har Ghar Tiranga campaign) on India’s Independence Day on August 15, Mehbooba said the government should instead hoist flags in the occupied territories of Ladakh.

PDP leaders, including former minister Naeem Akhtar and general secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura and Bashir Ahmad Mir, in their addresses lashed out at former party leaders who defected from the party after making claims that the Article 370 and 35 A are gone forever.

“To all those who opt for BJP's washing machine to get cleansed from the baggage of their past, BJP won't take care of you even if you change your religion," Akhtar said.

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