PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have resolved to carry forward the PDP-Congress alliance in Jammu and Kashmir in their first meeting after he stepped down as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir more than 11 months ago.
This has effectively scotched all speculations of an imminent break up of their political partnership.
The pledge of the two parties to carry forward into the future their four-year-long political association, first reached in October 2002 after the Assembly elections—emerged after an hour-long meeting Sonia Gandhi and Mufti Sayeed had in New Delhi on Tuesday.
"They resolved to carry ahead this association to empower the democratic institutions and facilitate complete return of peace and prosperity to the State," a release of the party said.
An unambiguous expression of continuing with the alliance is politically important. The two parties have been perennially quarrelling with each other over, especially on the issue of self-rule.
PDP projects it as the only viable solution of Kashmir crisis, and Congress denounces that as a borrowed version of Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf's "Self Governance".
Two have sparred with each other over the issue of demilitarization. The matters had come to a head, almost to breaking point over the allocation of portfolios to ministers, with the row surfacing whether it was chief minister's prerogative or that of the political partner as part of the "coalition dharma". The matters have since been resolved.
This was their first one-on-one meeting after Mufti Sayeed handed-over power to Ghulam Nabi Azad in November 2005, though the two had met each other on the sidelines of the flagging of the Poonch-Rawalakoke-cross-LOC bus service on June 20 this year. Today's meeting came exactly three weeks after PDP President Mehbooba Mufti met Sonia Gandhi on September 19.
Sayeed hailed the principled stand of Sonia Gandhi for extending support and cooperation to the reconciliation process for the larger goal of the betterment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He said changes of great importance and substance, both on political and economic fronts, witnessed by the State since October 2002 have "enhanced people's sense of security and has liberated them from the mentality of siege."
"This rejuvenating and hopeful political movement in Jammu and Kashmir was not only understood and appreciated by the country's leadership but even Pakistan acknowledged this change," he said.
"There is now an urgency to consolidate this positive change by taking tangible measures to address the problem with political will and determination."
Conveying PDP's strong approval for resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, Sayeed said, "it is a significant and positive move towards consolidation of peace process."
Despite obstacles and occasional hiccups the peace process between India and Pakistan should continue. "This is the only way to resolve mutual differences, improve the security environment and ensure welfare and happiness of the people of two countries," he maintained.
Expressing satisfaction over the meeting, Sayeed said "Sonia Gandhi, with great sincerity of purpose, wants to see an immediate end to the human tragedies in Jammu and Kashmir so that the people in the State could prosper with their counterparts in other parts of the country."