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Road to India becoming ‘Vishwaguru’ goes through J&K: PDP chief

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‘Declare J&K peace zone, let SAARC countries invest here’

Srinagar: India can become a ‘Vishwaguru’ (global leader) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dreams as it has power, democracy and secularism but the road to achieving that goes through Jammu and Kashmir, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said on Thursday.

She said India could not even become a leader of the SAARC countries and the biggest hurdle in that was its relation with Pakistan.

“I want to tell Modi ji that you keep on saying that you will make this country a ‘Vishwaguru’. Let you make it a ‘Vishwaguru’, first handle your home. India will certainly become a ‘Vishwaguru’ because it has that power, it has democracy, it has secularism — which though in today’s times you are smashing,” Mufti said.

She was addressing a function to celebrate her party’s 23rd foundation day at Sher-e-Kashmir Park here.

The PDP president, however, said the road to making the country a ‘Vishwaguru’ goes through Jammu and Kashmir.

“If you want to make the country ‘Vishwaguru’, the road to it goes through J&K. Till you do not resolve the Kashmir issue, your feet will remain fettered by it. The road to becoming ‘Vishwaguru’ does not go through G-7 or G-20 or Quad, but through SAARC,” she said.

Mufti vouched for improving relations with neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan.

“…Your neighbours, if I take Pakistan’s name, they will get angry, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and other countries in the SAARC. What have you done with them? When you couldn’t become a ‘guru’ of your neighbours…, then how will you become a ‘Vishwaguru’?

“What is the biggest hurdle in taking SAARC forward? It is the relations between India and Pakistan. Now that I have taken Pakistan’s name, there will be debates on news channels tonight that I am interfering in foreign relations. But, why shouldn’t I,” she said.

Pakistan’s border is not only with J&K, but Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat as well. However, the firing or war takes place only on the borders of J&K, the former chief minister said.

“Have we ever heard that there was firing on the Punjab border or that there was war between India and Pakistan on the Gujarat border or Rajasthan border? No, it only happens on the borders in J&K. There is a war inside J&K as well. Ten lakh army personnel on one side and youth with guns on the other. You will have to resolve this issue and there is no other option,” the PDP chief said.

“The life of the people has become miserable only in J&K. So, until you do not mend your relations with Pakistan, and talk to them, how will J&K stop from being a battle-ground (between India and Pakistan)?” she said.

Often facing flak over her remarks about dialogue with Pakistan, the PDP chief said she will continue to talk about the neighbouring country till “the 10 lakh army personnel continue to remain in J&K, till J&K continues to be a battleground between our country and Pakistan”.

Referring to the situation in Sri Lanka, Mufti said Modi should have called a meeting of the SAARC to show that India was leading the way.

“You talk about being a ‘Vishwaguru’. Sri Lanka is battling a huge storm. If you really want to perform the role of a ‘Vishwaguru’, you should have called a meeting of the SAARC, so that it would seem to them that India is their leader.

“There is a crisis in Pakistan. I understand that you think of it as your enemy, but if you behave well with an enemy, he becomes your friend. If you cannot become the guru of SAARC, then how will you become a ‘Vishwaguru’?” she added.

The biggest challenge, Mehbooba Mufti said that Modi faces and which has been there right from the country’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru till now, is the resolution of the issue of J&K.

“How many mosques will you destroy to make temples? Houses of how many Muslims you will destroy. Names of how many roads or cities will you change, you will not be remembered for long for that, because these things are not to be remembered about. What is the difference between you and those invaders then who came here to destroy temples to build mosques?” she asked, adding, if Modi wants, he can resolve the issue of J&K and he will be remembered in history for that.

Referring to accession, Mehbooba Mufti said the people of J&K sidelined Pakistan and joined hands with India’s democracy.

“You talk about hoisting the flag, we accepted your Constitution and we accepted your flag long back, but with that Constitution was our little (J&K) Constitution and a small flag. You ended both of them (on August 05, 2019).

“When you return our flag, our Constitution, when you open routes (across LoC) in J&K, when you start dialogue here as well as outside with respect to J&K, the issue of J&K will get resolved, then no one will stop you from becoming a ‘Vishwaguru’. But, till then it will remain just a dream which will not get realised,” she said.

The PDP president said after the abrogation of Article 370, Modi has taken J&K to a point where the government has to threaten people to hoist tricolour.

“You are asking them (people) to deposit Rs 20 for it as well. This is such a great flag and everyone respects the flag. Everyone salutes the flag of a country, but you have made this flag a political issue,” she said.

She also dared the prime minister to hoist the tricolour in the territory occupied by China in Ladakh.

“If you want to hoist the flag, then take back 1,000 sq km of our land which China is occupying and hoist the flag there. Why are you threatening small children and shopkeepers?” Mehbooba Mufti said.

She also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare Jammu and Kashmir a peace zone and make it a model of SAARC cooperation by opening all routes across the LoC and allowing every member country to invest in the region.

“I request you ( PM Modi) that J&K whose name you fear to take along with the name of Pakistan, there is a saying in English ‘catch the bull by the horns’, make this J&K and the other J&K a model of SAARC cooperation.

“Declare both J&K’s a zone of peace and let all the SAARC countries invest here. Let them open their banks here, their handicrafts universities be opened, everyone be allowed to move freely, open all routes,” she said.

The trade between India and Pakistan goes on at the Wagah border in Punjab but it was suspended in Jammu and Kashmir, she said.

She also asked the prime minister to make J&K a gateway to Central and South Asia.

“Pakistan and China have said all countries can become a part of the CPEC — a route which goes via the other J&K to Central Asia and South Asia. You said do not do it, but they will do it and they will not stop because you said so. Did you stop from abrogating Article 370 when they said so? No, you went ahead and ruined everything here.

“The other J&K is lucky that its strategic position is being used to become a gateway to Central and South Asia. Why do not you open routes through this J&K? Why not make it a gateway to Central and South Asia? Start from Jammu, reach Valley and then Ladakh — be it Xinjiang, Yarkhand, Kargil-Skardu, Bandipora-Astoor, we are telling you what to do,” Mehbooba Mufti said.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in Dhaka on December 08, 1985. Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The organisation promotes economic development and regional integration

Mehbooba Mufti also appealed to Prime Minister Modi to grant general amnesty to all Kashmiri youths languishing in different jails across the country. (With PTI inputs)

Photo Javed Khan

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