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Dr Mehboob Beg thanks people for having voted despite being aware of the perils and risks involved

Srinagar: Senior leader and former Parliamentarian, Dr. Mehboob Beg has expressed gratitude towards the people of Kashmir for having braved all odds and voted. I thank the people of the valley for having voted despite being aware of the perils and risks involved. There is no doubt that the participation was not much, that certainly calls for introspection at all levels, however, I only wish to thank those who voted, for I am aware of the risks they undertook in exercising their franchise.

There has been much debate on the historical opportunities that may have presented themselves for a possible resolution of the Kashmir issue, the National Conference would do well to introspect in this regard. Did Sheikh Sahab not ‘hurriedly’ agree to take-over as ‘Chief Minister’ and not ‘Wazir-e-azam’ despite advice to the contrary? Would Kashmir’s future not have been different had he listened to the Counsel provided? He had the support and confidence of the masses to drive their future, he chose to secure his own. I have put the historic perspective before the people, not once, but on quite a few occasions, the historians/political commentators are free to do their research.  Another vital opportunity came their way in 1996 when Dr.Farooq Abdullah had a two-third majority in the J&K Assembly. Did he not squander-away that mandate? Could he not have pushed for ‘concrete measures’ before taking oath? What was done when J&K Assembly’s ‘autonomy resolution’ was debunked? All of this needs to be put before the people and they can judge on their own, these are cold facts, no ‘political’ response to this will suffice.

In view of the facts I have reiterated, the National Conference does not have the moral authority to lecture anybody over protection of Article 370/35-A. We have heard the National Conference Vice-president admit and accept having stuck with the BJP while they undertook and executed the worst pogrom in 2002 in Gujarat, should they not apologize for the lost opportunities in 1975 and 1996?  It would be far more gracious if they introspect and apologize rather than sermonizing on the preservation and protection of Article 370 and 35-A.

The PDP, unlike the NC of 1996 did not have the numbers on its side and yet made the mighty Govt of India led by the BJP to agree to the Agenda of Alliance. PDP, by way of the Agenda of Alliance, made the BJP agree on talking to Pakistan and the separatists, made them agree on return of power projects, the BJP was made to agree on not tampering with the ‘special status’ of the state. The Modi government did start with an out-reach to Pakistan, it did not suit them politically and they could not handle the pressure that the PDP put it under is another matter. The non-implementation of the Agenda of Alliance on part of the BJP certainly increased the trust-deficit between the valley and the government of India.

I have also been hearing from the Opposition parties about South Kashmir having become a hub of unrest and anger during the last few years. These parties must also realize how lack of their presence has contributed to this. There is always a big role for the opposition to play in harnessing public mood and sentiment, they left a huge vacuum and the separatists stepped-in. I hope that we see a government with the right intent at the Centre, while Congress lacked an ‘accelerator’, this BJP government lacked the ‘brakes’, we need a fine balance.

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