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Mehbooba hails Omar's troop cut statement

Written by: Staff

Srinagar, Jun 21: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti today hailed her bete noire National Conference president Omar Abdullah's statement, supporting her party's demand for troop cut and revocation of Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act from strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a day-long party convention at Sopore in Baramulla district, she said Mr Abdullah's statement was vindication of the PDP stand that such people-oriented measures were now unavoidable.

''I am glad that the PDP's demands for troop reduction and AFSPA revocation were now being echoed by Mr Abdullah also. The NC had earlier labeled US Anti-national for raising these demands. It is a welcome departure from his (NC President's) earlier ambiguous stand on the issues. I hope he will now stand by it,'' Ms Mufti added.

She said the PDP would welcome positive contribution of not only the NC but all political parties and groups toward resolving the vexed Kashmir issue and ending the miseries of the people.

The PDP president said her party's demand for troop reduction and revocation of AFSPA were gradually gaining strength by attracting wide support from across the political divide in the state.

''Instead of politicising tragedies of the people, the NC must, with sincerity of purpose, play a more pro-active role in resolving the Kashmir issue, as it is the party's creation,'' she added.

Paradoxically, Ms Mufti said Mr Abdullah took a pro-troop cut stance at the same venue (Handwara) where in November 2006, he had vehemently opposed the PDP's demand.

''That time, he had asked with sarcasm the politicians raising the issue should tread-out without security before calling for any troop reduction in the state. I wonder whom the NC leaders are trying to be-fool by shifting stands so frequently,'' she remarked.

However, the PDP chief expressed the hope that on the crucial issue of troop-cut, the NC leadership would now stick to its most recent stand in the interest of the people of the state. She said her party was credited with transforming the image of the mainstream politicians and institutions in the state through its consistent pro-people agenda.

''Traditionally perceived as a part of the Kashmir problem, the state's mainstream politics underwent an image transformation after the 2002 Assembly elections and are now being perceived as a part of the solution,'' Ms Mufti added.

For the first time since the eruption of militancy in the state, she said the PDP-led government carried political and development processes together transforming the ground situation phenomenally.

This new approach to the political and development concerns of the people had created a refreshing atmosphere in the state conducive for path-breaking initiatives toward ultimate amicable settlement of the Kashmir issue, the PDP president said.

''It was during this period that Kashmir had started radiating peace rather than violence across the borders,'' she added.

Urging India and Pakistan to breathe fresh air into the choking peace process through Kashmir-specific confidence building measures (CBMs), Ms Mufti said if any concrete measures were not taken immediately the people would lose faith in the process.

''I don't think any of the CBMs initiated so far has created any problem for the two countries,'' she said and stressed the need for making these measures more tangible and fruitful.

The PDP chief said there was an urgency of speeding up both inter and intra-state confidence building process through various bold measures to ensure long-lasting peace in the region through the involvement of the people of the state.


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