For preserving special status Kashmir is one: Mehbooba

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba addressing after unfurling the national flag during Independence Day celebration at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar on Tuesday PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR

Srinagar, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said the entire political class of the State is united in defending and preserving the special status of the State. She said recently she met leaders of all political parties in this regard and she was happy to note that there was an overwhelming consensus on the issue among all of them.

Addressing the Independence Day parade at Bakshi stadium, she said when the people of the State decided to accede to the country on the basis of shared ideals of democracy and tolerance these were the institutions like Parliament which responded positively to this thinking and Jammu & Kashmir was accorded a special status within the country’s constitutional structure.

Exuding confidence in the country’s institutions, she hoped that these institutions would continue to deliver justice to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, in the historic perspective of the State, as they have done in the past.

Terming dialogue as the only way ahead to sort out issues, the Chief Minister said if peaceful negotiations can resolve all other issues in the country why can’t these help in redressing issues in Jammu & Kashmir.

She said she was pleased to see Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj saying that dialogue is the only way ahead in resolving border disputes with China.  She hoped Pakistan would also understand the need for peaceful engagement with India and the central Government would also undertake a broad based outreach treating the issues within the ambit of humanity as initiated by former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee. She said the Agenda of Alliance of present Government has also declared that dialogue with all stakeholders in the State is the way forward.

Mehbooba Mufti said good neighborly relations between India and Pakistan are very crucial for the people of the State who bear the brunt of any bitterness in relations between the two countries. She said due to the recent tension along the LoC, hundreds of people living close to the borders in the State had to migrate to safer places. Many of them, she said, lost their lives, schools in these areas got closed and a lot of them were rendered homeless. For how long it would continue, she asked.