Mehbooba Mufti was helpless in Haseeb Drabu sacking

The dismissal of J and K finance minister Haseeb Drabu by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is unfortunate. It eliminates the intelligent and credible voice from the State Government. And also snaps a trustworthy link between the PDP and the BJP, which together manage a patchy arrangement of governance in the troubled State. The immediate trigger for Drabu’s removal was his remark during the course of an address to a chamber of industry last week in the national capital. He said that Kashmir could not be seen as a ‘political problem’ but as a social problem.

This was in clear contravention of the PDP assertion that Kashmir was a political problem with domestic and foreign (read Pakistan) dimensions and needed to be resolved as such. In his view of the Kashmir issue, Drabu, a well-respected trained economist, seemed to be closer to the BJP’s position on Kashmir. By sacking Drabu summarily, without even waiting for his explanation, Mufti has sought to silence her critics in the National Conference and the Congress Party.

She could not have endorsed by implication of Drabu’s remarks by continuing to retain him in her government. Also, the sacking of Drabu sends out a message to the BJP that she was not willing to forgo her base-constituency by diluting her stand on Kashmir. As it is, the coalition partners have been at loggerheads on various small and not-so-small issues. With jehadi menace continuing undiminished, political instability in the State helps neither party. They should sit down together  and sort out their differences before it is too late.

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