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Go beyond Statements

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Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s call, on Tuesday, to the national leadership to show the element of compassion and display the statesmanship to get Jammu and Kashmir out of this “vicious cycle of killings” is yet  another desperate attempt to invite the attention of central government towards ever deteriorating situation in Kashmir. Her appeal came after killing of a Tamil Nadu tourist at Narbal in central Kashmir during stone pelting by a street mobbing who were protesting against the killing of 10 persons including five Hizbul Mujahideen commanders in Shopian. While the chief minister avoided commenting on the killing of six civilians (another boy succumbed to injuries in hospital on Tuesday), she showed up along the slain tourists father with a grim face. Last month, Mehbooba while addressing the 64th convention and exhibition of the Travel Agents

 

Association of India (TAAI) in Srinagar complained that she had been left alone by India to deal with the difficult situation facing the state. She said there were many ways to deal with the situation but “we are using only one way, which is to fight the gun with a gun. The wounds inflicted in the process also need to be treated and if anyone can treat those wounds, it is the people of the country, it is you. On  March 28 on BJP’s foundation day, she, after congratulating the BJP on the day, made a passionate appeal to the political leadership, cutting across political lines, to “listen to the voices of pain of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and help them in getting out of it”. Central government is conveniently ignoring Mehbooba’s appeals despite a merit in them. Mehbooba Mufti perhaps ignores the fact that she is dealing with a Prime Minister who publicly disregarded his father Mufti Mohammad Saeed and said “he does not need any advice on Kashmir from anyone”. That should have served as a notice to Mehbooba Mufti that her business with the BJP could not be normal. In no other Indian state is a chief minister so humiliated and criticized for raising s genuine voice regarding the situation in his or her state as in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

 

Mehbooba is virtually mauled by news channels day in and day out for one or the other issue. It is almost a daily business for the TV news channels to pick some bit of chief minister’s statement and build story on it to disgrace her. What is more conspicuous in these debates is the sadistic pleasure BJP representatives derive out of Mehbooba’s humiliation. No chief minister has ever been humiliated and insulted so publicly as Mehbooba Mufti. The News channels unleashed a war against Mehbooba Mufti, through debates and news reports, for giving

 

amnesty to “stone pelters’ after the death of Tamil Nadu tourist. Nobody in these debates raised finger towards central government that the amnesty had come from home minister of India at the recommendations of Denishwar Sharma, the Prime Minister’s point man on

 

Kashmir.  She, however, appears to be eating the humble pie without feeling any insult or shame. It is unfathomable why PDP is playing as second fiddle to the BJP. Ever since it joined hands with BJP to form government in the state, PDP has been shamed and embarrassed by its

 

partner on dozens of occasions. Only recently, when Mehbooba Mufti asked for dialogue between India and Pakistan, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav snubbed her as she was nobody to decide about talks. Let chief minister recall a single occasion when she was not humiliated by

 

the BJP on issues of political and public matter ever since she became the chief minister.

 

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is under attack from BJP on various fronts. Its constitutional privileges have been challenged in the court of law. Issuing permanent state subject status to non-state subjects like West Pakistan refugees, setting up separate residential colonies for soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits are some of the fronts the BJP and its satellite groups have opened up against Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti should rise above power politics and stonewall this onslaught. Mehbooba Mufti does not need to be told that she is chief minister not because of some favour by the BJP but by the choice of the people of the state. BJP’s ministers and leaders’ activities in and outside the government are very disturbing, which cannot be ignored. Mehbooba Mufti should open her eyes and ears and should see and listen to what is going on in and outside her government.


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Editorial

A premeditated murder

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Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president who was later ousted from power, passed away on Tuesday. The 67-year old Muslim Brotherhood leader collapsed and died in a court during a session. Reports said that Mursi had just recorded his statement in the court during his trial on espionage charges when he collapsed. He was rushed o hospital where doctors declared him dead. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice political party said in a statement published on its website Monday that Egyptian authorities are responsible for Morsi’s “deliberate slow death” because they “withheld medication and gave him disgusting food. They did not give him the most basic human rights.” The group called for masses to gather at his funeral in Egypt as well as at Egyptian embassies around the world. Morsi was elected president in 2012 in Egypt’s first free elections following the ouster the previous year of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Morsi promised a moderate Islamist agenda and a new democratic era, but his time in power proved difficult, with critics accusing him of trying to amass power and impose the Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative brand of politics on the country. He was ousted from power under a military coup. Egypt’s army chief Gen Al Sisi led the coup. He is now the country’s president elected through sham elections which is o less than authoritarian rule. The country’s complete reversion to authoritarian rule has been overlooked by the world community. The United States, once a full-throated supporter of Egypt’s fledgling democracy, quietly acquiesced to the country’s authoritarian revival. Then President Barak Obama lifted an arms freeze against Egypt and told Al-Sisi that the White House would support resuming $1.3 billion in annual military aid “in the interest of U.S. national security.” American stooges, the Saudi Salafies and United Arab Emirate were other accomplices involved in criminality against Mursi, his Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian people. Saudi Kingdom, which symbolizes the monarchy in the region, has shown its horrendous face by not only supporting the carnage of Brotherhood but also declared the socio-political organization as ‘terrorist”. Egypts so-called Salfis, who feed on Saudi charity, too have rejoiced over the brutality against Brotherhood. What they and the West forget is that by persecuting and banishing dissent, they are forcing democratic movements to go underground and become violent.
More than 5000 people were killed and thousands others wounded in the military crackdown against Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Thousands others were arrested and jailed where they were subjected to worst means of torture. Amnesty International (AI), in a report said that 16000 people were arrested and jailed after Mursi’s removal. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights initiative WikiThawra stated that more than 40,000 people were detained or indicted between July 2013 and mid-May 2014. Morsy and his co-defendants were accused of collaborating with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to break into several prisons across Egypt in January 2011 and of facilitating the escape of Morsy and 20,000 others. The jailbreak came amid the chaos of the January 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak and led to Morsy’s election the following year. After his arrest, Morsi gave angry speeches in court and continuously insisted he remained Egypt’s legitimate president. His speeches led judges to order him kept in a glass cage during court sessions where they could turn off his audio. He was later sentenced to death. However, the apex court of the Egypt stayed the death sentence and ordered re-opening and re-hearing of the case. Turkey’s President RecepTayyipErdogan, who was a strong ally of Morsi when he was in power, paid tribute to the former president on Monday calling him a “martyr,” while calling current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi “cruel.” Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, another backer of Morsi, tweeted his condolences, saying he received the news of Morsi’s death with “deep sorrow.”

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Governor’s plain talk

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Merely a few days after Governor Sat Paul Malik dismissed the notion of autonomy as achievable goal, the National Conference has reiterated its commitment with the state’s autonomy and said that the party would continue to struggle for the restoration of autonomy. After party patriarch Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah, the NC general secretary Al Mohammad Sagar has joined the party’s autonomy song. Sagar, on Sunday, said that his party was not demanding anything new or outside the gambit of India constitution but what the state had been granted under the country’s constitution. The NC’s call for restoration of autonomy comes just with days after Governor Sat Paul Malik called the proponents of such slogans as “fraudsters cheating people”. Malik minced no words in condemning the political establishment of the state (both anti and pro mainstream) and said that Kashmiri politicians were cheating the people of the state by raising fake slogans. The NC’s reiteration of commitment with the autonomy comes at a time when the party is almost in election-mode. Though no date has been fixed for the assembly elections and the President’s rule has been extended for another six months, there are speculations that the assembly elections could be held by the end of this year. After winning all the three parliamentary seats in the valley in recently held general elections, the NC is dreaming of a great comeback in the assembly elections. The party has activated all its leaders and cadres to reach out to the people ahead of elections. In most of the constituencies, the party has nominated its possible candidates while search for candidates in other constituencies is going on. There are reports that the NC is trying to woo some PDP leaders and former MLAs to its fold to make most of the coming elections. In coming days, the party is going to raise its pitch on restoration of autonomy to the state. analyzing Governor’s dig on the NC with regard to the autonomy, one finds a merit in his statement.
It is a well known fact that the restoration of autonomy or pre-53 position to the state is an old demand of the National Conference but this, too, is a fact that the party had never been serious and sincere about the demand. Whether autonomy is a solution to the issue of Kashmir or not is a separate debate but the very question is whether National Conference (NC) is serious in what it demands. Had the NC leadership been sincere in their demand for pre-53 status to the state, the eruption of militancy had provided them a great chance to barter it with New Delhi. Government of India was desperate to ink a deal with any political party in Kashmir to get the state back on peace rails. Then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao in 1996 promised ‘anything short of Azadi’. “Sky is the limit”, he had said. But the NC leadership again faulted here and they accepted power against the wishes of common people without making any political or constitutional bargaining with government of India. The most humiliating moment for the party came in 2000 when its resolution on autonomy was summarily dismissed by then BJP-led government. The resolution was passed by the state legislature in a specially convened session in June that year. Given the NC’s history of compromises on its political agenda it sounds quite bizarre when its leaders talk of autonomy. The NC never talks of autonomy when in power. That is sufficiently known to the people of the state and the men and managers in New Delhi as well. It is sheer political hypocrisy to demand a thing the party does not believe in. The NC leadership knows it well that the party was never serious in demanding autonomy. They raise the slogan of autonomy only to bargain power with the centre.

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Missing opportunity

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India and Pakistan have missed yet a key opportunity to build relations. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s high-powered meeting held last week at Bishkek had brought together the Prime Ministers of the two countries. They could have turned it into a historic opportunity by laying foundation for a road to peace and friendship in the subcontinent. But the two leaders demonstrated the immaturity and juvenile behavior of college naughties by avoiding each other during the meeting. Both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, along with other leaders, attended the opening ceremony of 19th meeting of the council of the heads of state of the SCO. Imran Khan and Narendra Modi entered the hall together however, they avoided each other while entering the meeting hall.  Both the leaders also attended the dinner reception hosted by President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov in honour of leaders participating in the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But they allowed this opportunity to go waste. Both the leaders were sitting a few seats apart at the dinner in the Kyrgyz capital. However, both of them didn’t exchange any pleasantries even as they greeted other world leaders at the multilateral engagement. It was on the second day of the meeting that Khan and Modi found some moments to shake hands and exchange some pleasantries. The two Prime Ministers had meetings with the leaders of all other participating countries on the sidelines of the meeting but avoided what could have proved crucial and historic. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. He underlined the need for Pakistan to take concrete action in order to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue. Imran Khan is reported to have raised the issue of Kashmir with Russian President Putin during sideline meetings. This is sheer childish and infantile that the two Prime Ministers talked to other leaders but avoided talking with each other.    

It goes without saying that India and Pakistan have some simmering problems that are weighing heavily on their relations. These issues—Kashmir being the main one—have potential of pushing the two countries to a devastating war as was seen in February in the aftermath of Pulwama suicide attack. But the leaders and people of both the countries know that they cannot afford war. Since both the countries are nuclear, there can be no limited war. It would be full-fledged nuclear war. Recent warnings by some keen experts have said that, at least, 10 crore peoples with die in a war between India and Pakistan. They have also warned that besides mass death, there could be a nuclear winter for at least three to four months in the subcontinent which could have furthermore deadly consequences. When war is not an option, the Indian and Pakistani leadership have to realize the importance and urgency of dialogue. They cannot live with problems for ever. Problems are to be sorted out and resolved through sustained dialogue. It is unfortunate that despite knowing the importance of dialogue, the two countries are avoiding it. Some recent gestures when Pakistan opened its air space for over-flight of former Indian foreign minister Suhsma Swaraj and its willingness to open the space again for Prime Minister Modi on way to Bishkek, had generated a glimpse of hope that the two countries were opening up for each other but Prime Minister Modi avoided to use Pakistani air space that further dampened the already murky atmosphere. India and Pakistan have to rise above the domestic requirements and compulsions of politics and realize the importance of dialogue in larger perspective. It is anybody’s guess that this compulsion will force the two countries to sit on the table. But earlier the better  

 
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