Peoples Democratic Party patron and former Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Monday reminded BJP leader LK Advani that the current Indo-Pak peace process in which Kashmir solution appeared to be on horizon was initiated by NDA government in which he was Deputy Prime Minister.
He said that he was "surprised and dismayed" over Advani's remarks that the "UPA was making compromises on Kashmir".
Mufti Sayeed, who had taken over as the first Muslim Home Minister of India in December 1989, while reflecting on the situation that Kashmir has seen in the blood splattered 17 calendar years since then, in a statement urged that the BJP as the main opposition party of the country "must stand behind the process, initiated by its leader and the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharief in February 1999," he said referring to the Lahore bus journey of February 1999.
In fact, he said "the present peace process got the much-needed fillip when Vajpayee extended hand of friendship to Pakistan from Srinagar in April 2003. It was during Mufti Sayeed's tenure as chief minister when Vajpayee had made the announcement.
Vajpayee had surprised everyone by extending hand of friendship from the ramparts of Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium where the first seeds of the secessionist violence were sown in 1983 was the scene of India-bashing.
Though Mufti did not mention it, but the mention of 1999 and 2003 initiatives, was also an indirect hint of the start of the peace process despite Kargil conflict of the summer of 1999, the holding of Agra summit of July 2001, which ended in a failure. The stand off on the borders where Indian and Pakistani armies were in confrontational mode for 10 months after the December 13, 2001 terrorist assault on the Indian Parliament.
Stressing that the repeated attempts to start the peace process with Pakistan by Vajapyee were an inescapable reality, Mufti Sayeed said, "The extending of the hand of friendship to Pakistan was a clear admission of the need for such a course between two nuclear power South Asian neighbhours."
"The subsequent positive response it evoked among the people and the establishment on both sides gave the process the legitimacy and strength to move forward," he said.
Making a strong plea against exploiting the Kashmir issue for electoral gains, Sayeed said, this human tragedy has dotted the region's destiny for over five decades and the time has come to replace the pain with prosperity. "The pain of Kashmiris has reached a level, where the yearning for peace has gained substantial ground," he said and added that the destiny of not only the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but also the whole region is linked to the peace process.