Baig to RSTV: Must talk to Pak & its non-state actors

Neelu Vyas

Pre-electoral rhetoric and the non-implementation of promises made by RSS backed BJP in the Agenda for Alliance has dented the image of the People’s Democratic Party in the Kashmir valley, says former Deputy Chief Minister and veteran PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig.

In a candid interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Baig trained his guns on the BJP for not taking the Kashmiris into confidence. He also said that was the main reason for the increase in the number of home grown militants – the new reality of Kashmir.

Baig, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Baramulla also said that there is a deep sense of alienation amongst the youth because of the non-fulfilment of the promises made by the government of India. He reiterated that the Kashmir dispute cannot be solved without acknowledging Pakistan and its non-state actors, but he also rued over the fact that all parties are not on the same page.

Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:

Is this the darkest chapter in the history of cyclical unrest in Kashmir?

Massive uprising has now reached rural areas. Earlier regimes treated it as a law & order problem but PDP sees the uprising as a political problem. Reports by interlocutors have been ignored and it is these ignored reports that have undermined the faith of Kashmiri people.

PDP, it seems, has not been able to handle the situation. At least on the face of it, PDP looks no different than the National Conference?

PDP has always aimed to tread the middle path. PDP has introduced the doctrine of ‘healing touch’. People are now suspicious of PDP because of the coalition.

Are people suspicious of the PDP or the alliance with BJP?

The coalition started on a note of suspicion. The Agenda of Alliance was drafted for confidence building and disputed issues were put in the backburner. PDP is all for dialogue with stakeholders, both with Pakistan and non-state actors in Pakistan. There has been no movement on the Common Minimum Agenda. PDP is being seen as a party hungry for power.

Are you and your party regretting the alliance with BJP?

What I am regretting is the pre poll rhetoric – the failure to execute the Agenda of Alliance. Our credibility has been eroded. The credibility of the alliance also chipped away in the state. We do not regret the alliance with BJP, but the PDP failed to sell RSS backed alliance. PDP is for self-rule while the BJP is for abrogation of Art. 370.

muzaffarhussainbaigbig

PDP’s Muzaffar Hussain Baig speaks to Rajya Sabha TV’s Neelu Vyas.

Do you see the long standing dispute of Kashmir being resolved any time soon?

There can be no solution without Pakistan, non-state actors, mainstream parties in J&K. Pakistan is a stakeholder because of the Shimla Agreement. Wani’s death gave an opportunity to Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir problem.

Why is the number of home grown militants increasing and that too in South Kashmir which is a PDP stronghold?

It is because of radicalisation because of loss of faith in India. And the loss of faith comes from unfulfilled promises. All political parties in Kashmir are not on the same page. There can be no political consensus without Pakistan. We cannot live in a perpetual state of hostility with Pakistan. Pakistan is in direct control of northern Kashmir.

How do you see Prime Minister’s comment on Balochistan made on the Independence Day? Do you see it as a bargaining chip for next month’s united General Assembly to contain Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir problem?

Balochistan is Pakistan’s internal problem. PM Modi warned Pakistan through Balochistan. Pakistan cannot lecture us on human rights.

You have been very candid about your party’s relationship with BJP. Are you not scared that the alliance might break?

RSS comments on Art. 370 hurt Kashmir. The coalition may break on principles. The coalition should not break because of the uprising. Home grown militancy is the truth as of now.