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Mehbooba urges PM Modi to accept Imran Khan’s call for India-Pak talks

The PDP president cited Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s example to state that the upcoming elections should not stop PM Modi from trying to establish peace with Pakistan.

india Updated: Jul 28, 2018 20:58 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Mehbooba Mufti,Narendra Modi,Imran Khan
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti waves to supporters during a function in Srinagar.(Waseem Andrabi/ HT Photo )

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to respond positively to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s overtures on Kashmir at a time when the former cricketer looks set to become the neighbouring country’s next premier.

“I want to tell Prime Minister Narendra Modi that a new government is forming in Pakistan. He (Imran Khan) has offered India the hand of friendship. He has talked about dialogue and you should respond positively to that,” the former chief minister said in her address on the 19th raising day of the PDP in Srinagar.

Mufti’s call came a day after separatist leaders welcomed Khan’s speech suggesting a resolution to the Kashmir issue through dialogue. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single-largest party in the recently held general election.

The PDP president said the upcoming elections should not stop Modi from trying to establish peace with Pakistan. “Elections keep on coming. You may remember how (Atal Bihari) Vajpayeeji had offered his hand of friendship to Pakistan before the 2004 elections, and announced ceasefire on the borders. That is the magnanimity of a leader. A big leader does not think about elections, he thinks about the people,” she added.

Mufti said Jammu and Kashmir has always been a challenge for prime ministers of the country, be it Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh, IK Gujral, Vajpayee or Narendra Modi.

“The name of the prime minister who finds a solution to the Kashmir issue within the ambit of humanity and stops bloodshed here while improving relations with Pakistan will be etched in history in golden letters. My request is that he (Modi) use this occasion and respond positively to the initiative of friendship from Imran Khan,” she said.

This was the PDP’s first rally after the BJP pulled out of its coalition government in June, and the state came under governor’s rule.

Khan, who looks set to become the next Pakistan prime minister, called Kashmir the biggest hurdle in ties between the two countries. He offered to take “two steps if India takes one”, stating that the issue should be resolved on the negotiating table.

Separatists welcomed Khan’s statement and urged India to reciprocate. “Kashmir is the core issue between India and Pakistan, and the two countries should resolve it through dialogue,” said hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani in a statement. Hailing Khan for his “clear” Kashmir policy, he said: “Now it is time for India to reciprocate. India should come clear on Pakistan’s offer.”

Moderate separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the Kashmiri people have always wished for good relations between the two countries. “People are hopeful that the subcontinent can exist in peace and prosperity if both the countries sincerely decide to resolve the Kashmir issue,” Mirwaiz said in his address to a congregation at the Jama Masjid in Srinagar.

First Published: Jul 28, 2018 16:14 IST