Srinagar govt urges talks with Pakistan

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, March 2, 2015
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Jammu and Kashmir’s new ruling coalition sworn in on Sunday has nudged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resume talks with Pakistan and Kashmiri stakeholders, including the Hurriyat Conference.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Kashmir’s People’s Democratic Party nominated 11 and 12 ministers respectively who took the oath of office under the watch of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, founder and head of PDP.  Modi and his senior party members were present at the ceremony.

“The (Modi) government has recently initiated several steps to normalise the relationship with Pakistan,” the coalition’s common minimum programme noted apparently referring to the coming visit of Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to Islamabad on Tuesday.

“The coalition government will seek to support and strengthen the approach and initiatives taken by the government to create a reconciliatory environment and build stakes for all in the peace and development within the sub-continent.”

Sayeed was previously quoted as saying that peace dialogue with Pakistan was a non-negotiable precondition for his agreeing to join a coalition with the BJP, which has got its first chance to sit in the treasury benches.

Ties with Pakistan would be pursued “by taking confidence building measures such as enhancing people to people contact on both sides of the LoC, encouraging civil society exchanges, taking travel, commerce, trade and business across the LoC to the next level and opening new routes across all three regions to enhancing connectivity”.

It took weeks of hard bargaining on both sides to agree on a common minimum programme, which probably explains nuanced and indirect messages. For example, a proposal to hold talks with Hurriyat was couched in verbiage.

“The earlier NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee had initiated a dialogue process with all political groups, including the Hurriyat Conference, in the spirit of “Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat aur Jamhooriyat”, the BJP-PDP document noted.

“Following the same principles, the coalition government will facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders, which will include all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections. This dialogue will seek to build a broad-based consensus on resolution of all outstanding issues of J&K.”

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