The Kashmir problem is not merely a law and order situation and the democratic government in Pakistan must be seriously engaged to resolve the issue, former chief minister and patron of the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) Mufti Muhammad Sayeed said Saturday.
Addressing a rally of PDP sarpanches (village heads) and panches (village council members), who gathered at the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) grounds here, Mufti Sayeed said: “The union home minister has congratulated Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for bringing stone pelting incidents under control."
“I want to ask whether the problem of Kashmir is merely the problem of stone pelting? Aren’t the people of Kashmir living a life of pain and uncertainty?," Mufti asked.
“The CBMs (confidence building measures) announced during the recent meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are a welcome step. Time will soon come when Mufti Muhammad Sayeed will go to the other part of Kashmir as a tourist and when people from the other side will come here for pilgrimage and tourism,” he said.
The PDP leader said it was fortunate for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the central government that a democratic government was in power in Pakistan.
“Time has come when India must engage the democratic government in Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir problem."
“Whenever I have met the prime minister or the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson, I have always asserted that India must engage with the democratic government in Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir problem.," he said.
“I am hopeful that Kashmir will one day become an island of peace,” Mufti Sayeed said.
He also said his party had no problems with the separatist leaders calling on Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar recently in New Delhi.
“When Omar Abdullah went to Pakistan to attend a conference there, he met General Musharraf,” he maintained.
The rally was the first major show of strength in Srinagar city by the PDP, although most of the people came from south Kashmir and other areas where the PDP has a support base.
More than 6,000 people, including PDP sarpanches, panches and party activists attended Saturday’s rally.
Most leaders of the party, including party president Mehbooba Mufti and former deputy chief minister Muzaffar Husain Baig, addressed the rally.