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?I believe in concrete results'

Sceptics spoke incessantly when he took over as the Congress' first J&K CM in 30 years. But Azad has shown promise in the 60 days that he has been in power.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 12:33 IST
Vinod Sharma and Saroj Nagi
Vinod Sharma and Saroj Nagi

Pakistan wants to discuss self-governance and demilitarisation with India. Even some J&K-based parties have made similar demands. What is your take?
I recently requested the PM to keep dialogue going with both Pakistan and the Hurriyat. But demilitarisation is neither possible nor acceptable. If Pakistan makes this demand, it should demilitarise in PoK. As for parties in J&K, their leaders cannot ask for security for themselves while seeking troop reduction. They must not dance to Pakistan's tunes.

And self-governance.
There is self-governance in J&K. We had a free and fair election in 2002. It is strange that Pakistan is talking about it when people in Gilgit don't have voting rights. If any political party--mainstream or non-mainstream-feels that the 2002 polls were not free, I'm ready to dissolve the Assembly and hold fresh elections.

Is that your offer to the Hurriyat?
To all parties. There are some very promising young leaders in the Hurriyat. If they have changed their mind, they are free to take part in elections.

Haven't local leaders only dished out emotive slogans instead of serving the people?
Since Independence, several leaders have played to the international gallery, talking of things that are not possible. I'm not saying that there should not be dialogue or greater autonomy. There must be dialogue--- with Pakistan and between the Centre and the Hurriyat. But that's not the only thing. There are other pressing issues --- schools, infrastructure, hospitals, a good work culture and fight against corruption.

Have you delivered on these fronts?
A lasting solution to Kashmir has to be realistic. It must factor in the sentiments in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. I am for concrete results, not slogans. I have tried to change the work culture.

Earlier, officers showed up only for a few hours but I shut the doors on latecomers. Our drive against corruption has the support of the media, people and parties across the spectrum. We are not just catching small fish, we are going for the big players.

There have been reports of a legislative offensive.
Last week, we passed two important legislations. Now the anti-defection law will also apply to J&K. But the second, truly historic legislation is a political first. It allows us to confiscate property of politicians and officers that is disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Instead of meeting only for four hours -- from 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m -- the two Houses now sit till 4 p.m. and we plan to extend it to 5 p.m.

How do you combine responsive governance with a firm handling of terrorism?
There was this dichotomy--whether the government was pro-people or pro-militants. I resolved it by outlining a pro-people approach. I promised and ensured zero custodial deaths. The security forces have been told not to harass citizens while pursuing militants. But I have shown no compassion for militants. For them, it is bullet for bullet. They cannot masquerade as freedom fighters.

There are just 4,000-odd Pandits in the bureaucracy, down from 13,000 in 1989. What's your prescription?
Recently, the PM announced a rehabilitation package for Pandits. We would provide employment to 21,000 youth, including Pandits, at various levels. Their numbers have dwindled at other levels but some top positions are still held by them.

First Published: Jan 09, 2006 02:11 IST