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Listen to Mahbooba Mufti

As the hostility between India and Pakistan has heightened to a new level, chief minister Mahbooba Mufti deserves all accolades for advocating dialogue to end the hostility. Mahbooba Mufti virtually went against the tide to plead for the dialogue as the political and military establishment in New Delhi does favour no-talks with Pakistan till “they stop sending in militants’. “We fought and won all wars against Pakistan but even now there is no solution. Our jawans and civilians keep dying. Dialogue with Pakistan is necessary if we are to end bloodshed… We have to talk because war is not an option,” she said in the state assembly in Jammu on Monday. She pleaded for dialogue after the latest set of incidents which included a suicide attack on an army base at Sanjuwan in Jammu. It was perhaps against this backdrop that she said that she would be labelled as ‘anti-national’ by the talking heads on the evening political debates on TV channels but “it mattered little’ as the only way forward was dialogue with war being no option. As government of India has directly blamed Pakistan for the attack and defence minister Nirmala Sitaraman warned that Pakistan would pay for it, Mahbooba Mufti by a small but vocal constituency led by mad-media as “pro Pakistan” and “anti-national”. Incidentally, Pakistan’s position over the past some time has been reconciliatory. Only recently Pakistan’s foreign minister Khwaja Asif also said on record that his country stood for talks with India to resolve the dispute. Khwaja Asif said that Kashmir was a stumbling block on way to peace in south Asia. He said that the road blocks could be removed only through dialogue. It is quite sad to note that some vested interests have seemingly high-jacked the agenda of the government and they formulate the foreign policy in TV studios. This is a reflection on the thinking and wisdom of the people in office that they get affected by this jingo-brigade. More often than not similar frenzied voices come from the government as well. It would not be exaggeration to say that the central government is holding back from dialogue with Pakistan for the fear of this warmongering group. It is time that saner voices be heard and understood sans preconceived notions. It is not going overboard to say that the domestic squabbles and internal political exigencies have relegated the once vaunted India-Pakistan peace process to the proverbial square one. Not that the bilateral talks ever appeared to be more than a diversionary tactic of sorts. It is rather the domestic compulsions that make India and Pakistan to tread on hostile path. If the drift in Indo-Pak relations is not arrested it would appear that in the not too distant future the process may well be denuded of the proverbial fig leaf that has afforded it a semblance of respectability of sorts. With this background, one must appreciate Mahbooba Mufti for talking sense when everything nonsense is said and heard. Government of India might have a genuine case when they say that talks could be held only after Pakistan stopped ‘exporting terrorism’. India is not the only country which faces terrorism. Pakistan has faced the wrath of terrorism more than India. Pakistan has publicly accused India of supporting and sponsoring terrorists in Pakistan. A former officer of Indian navy is in custody of Pakistan, who, the Pakistani authorities say, was on a terror mission in Pakistan. The allegations and counter-allegations would go on indefinitely unless some reasonable steps are taken to get people out of the caged mentality. The first step, in this regard, is to restart the dialogue process. That is the only way forward.