Restore confidence, election can wait: Mehbooba Mufti

New Delhi

A day after a meeting with PM Modi, former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday stressed that before elections, the government needs to rea­ch out to people and rest­ore shattered confidence. She said she would not contest poll until Article 370 was restored and if her party won, she would not be the CM.

“I won’t fight any election until Article 370 is restored. Otherwise they will say I am doing it for political gains. But my party does not want to leave any democratic space or it will be taken away by other forces. If the party wins, there are other senior leaders. I will not be the Chief Minister. I want to send message to my people it is not a mere slogan for me,” Mehbooba Mufti told NDTV.

“Before elections we need confidence building measures as people’s confidence is shaken, they are shattered. They are depressed...you need to reach out to people first, elections can wait,” said the PDP leader.

“We thought we will be able to get some confidence building measures, maybe we will be able to give some relief to people. That is why we felt it was important to go (for the meeting).”

One of the reasons for the Centre’s reach-out is believed to be the dip in terror incidents and militancy. Several key militants have been killed over the past two years, say officials, calling it a huge win for the forces.

“Killing militants is maybe the success of security forces but not the success of a government. You have to address why young boys are picking up guns. Once you bury a militant in a graveyard, that boy’s body becomes Pakistan for everybody. The flag on their grave becomes a Pakist­ani flag. We have to address that, reach out to people... we have to stop this,” she said.

Restore confidence, election can wait: Mehbooba Mufti

PM’s meet with J&K leaders positive step; Centre must restore statehood before poll: Karan Singh

New Delhi

Describing PM Modi’s meeting with top political leaders from J&K as a “very positive step”, veteran Congress leader and former J&K governor Karan Singh on Friday said statehood must be restored before holding assembly poll there and asserted such a move would go a long way in helping to “heal the wounds” of the people. Singh, the son of Maharaja Hari Singh who signed the terms of Kashmir’s accession in 1947, also said his personal opinion is prima facie the revocation of special status under Article 370 seems “irreversible” but asserted the matter was before the SC and it must be decided by it.

In an interview, the last Sadr-e-Riyasat and first governor of the erstwhile state demanded the Centre must provide a “financial-cum- developmental package” to the people whose livelihoods were badly affected during the last two years following the Centre’s move to bifurcate J&K into two UTs and revoke its special status.

Reacting to the PM’s meeting with 14 political leaders of J&K, including 4 former CMs, Singh said, “I definitely think it is a very positive step. First of all, because everybody was involved and people who once were discarded as anti-national, they all came — National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party both.” “I believe everybody spoke their mind very frankly and the PM listened very attentively to everybody. Three and a half hours of the meeting was there and my own view is that it is a very positive move because something was needed to break the ice,” the former Union minister said. “So statehood is a universal demand, the question is timing. Now as I understand the situation, the first step now is delimitation. The delimitation commission is already working, they should submit their report very soon. After delimitation then the next step is elections. My own view is that...we should have elections as a full state,” Singh said.

SP, Cong allies of Islamic terrorists, Mehbooba must go to Pak: UP minister

Ballia

A UP minister has accused the Congress and the Samajwadi Party of being “allies of Islamic terrorists”, and said madrassas are helping in the religious conversion of the poor with people involved in it getting money directly in their accounts from Muslim countries. The allegations were made by UP MoS for Parliamentary Affairs, Anand Swaroop Shukla, while talking to reporters on Thursday late night. The minister also attacked PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti saying “her heart is in Pakistan” and asked her to go to Pakistan.

Restore confidence, election can wait: Mehbooba Mufti

Modi meet a PR exercise: Pak minister

Islamabad

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday described PM Modi’s meet with top political leaders from J&K as a “drama” and a “PR exercise”.

“In my view it was a drama and why was it a drama? Because at best it could be called a public relations exercise but nothing was achie­ved,” Qureshi said a day after the high-level meeting on J&K in New Delhi.

Qureshi said the Kashmiri lea­ders at the meeting “unanimously demanded full-fled­g­ed restoration of statehood”. “The leaders were not given any solid reply to their demand and instead told that a decision about restoration of the special status of Kashmir will be taken at an appropriate time, which is an ambiguous statement,” he said.

He pointed out the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leadership was not invited to the meeting.

Qureshi claimed India was trying to bring demographic changes in Kashmir which was worrying for Pakistan as it would have long term implications.

About back-door diplomacy with India, he said no such communication was going on with India but confirmed intelligence-level contact.

“There is no back-door channel but there is contact on the regional situation at an intelligence level but there is no back-door channel,” he said.

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