Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has emphasized that any solution to the Kashmir issue must not only respect the dignity and aspirations of the people, but should afford adequate safeguards to the political and economic interests of the State.
Addressing an impressive public meeting at Aishmuqam in Pahalgam constituency on Saturday, Sayeed said people of Jammu & Kashmir are the ultimate arbitrators of the State's interests and they have to be given the rights and privileges a democratic set up guarantees them. He said the emerging positive scenario heading towards reconciliation and resolution of the problem, for which the people of the State have sacrificed enormously, must be now unavoidably complemented with adequate and evident relief measures on the ground. "The congregations and deliberations have to translate into action, sooner the better," he said and added that the people have always responded positively to the measures motivated by the vision of bringing dignified peace and prosperity to their lives. "The just concerns and aspirations of the people should be the fundamental input for any solution," he said.
The underlying concept of the PDP's Self-Rule proposal, which the party is going to present in the Working Group on the Center-State relations, Sayeed said, is political, economic and social justice for the people of Jammu & Kashmir. He said the party has emerged as the only political voice in the State that carried ahead the State's political and the developmental agenda simultaneously without compromising one for the other. "After 2002 assembly elections, for the first time in the history of Jammu & Kashmir, the State Government jumped to the forefront initiating, driving and catalyzing the peace process for the resolution of the Kashmir issue," he said and added the process was supplemented by adequate relief measures addressing the security and developmental concerns of the people. "This holistic approach towards the problem became the crucial element for transforming the situation," he said.
Sayeed said the Government of India must speed up the internal confidence building process including reduction of troops and revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and strengthen and empower the legitimate people's institutions in the State. He said these measures should be followed up with inter-State initiatives like devising joint institutional mechanism by involving legislators from both sides of the State. "Ultimately both the countries must declare Jammu & Kashmir a free trade zone with free access to the people and goods to and from the State," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, senior PDP leader, Muzaffar Hussain Baig said PDP is the only party that could face up to the challenge of resolving the State's problems. He said during its three-year governance, the party not only delivered on its political and economic agenda but laid the strong foundation for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue through the involvement of the people. He said the greatest satisfaction for PDP today is the public acknowledgement, both within and outside the State, of the remarkable progress made on the political and developmental fronts between 2002 and 2005. He said under the leadership of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, PDP has, during a very short period, emerged as a strong political movement with a resolute agenda for the people of all the regions, religions and ethnic groups in the State.
Baig said whether it was the relief in security or massive infrastructural development in connectivity, education, health, drinking water or tourism sectors, the PDP-led coalition government left indelible landmarks that made noticeable difference to the lives of the people and enormously helped in the consolidation of the reconciliation process.
Addressing the meeting another senior PDP leader and prominent Shia cleric, Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari said PDP has given a new direction to the State politics making the people conscious of their rights. He said the party has not only changed the complexion of the State politics but has set new standards in governance. He said in the new political scenario, it would be now difficult for any party to survive on exploitative slogans as people now are empowered and can't be taken for a ride.
PDP leaders, Mohammad Sartaj Madni, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat, Rafi Ahmad Mir, Basharat Bukhari and Choidhary Nizam-ud-Din Khatana also addressed the meeting.