Mehbooba’s different voices: Pakistan bashing in Delhi, conciliatory in Kashmir
New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) While she was in Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday attacked Pakistan and separatist leaders for inciting trouble in the state, but later in Srinagar her tone and tenor changed — from being angry to conciliatory.
During her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in the morning, Mehbooba lashed out at Pakistan – in a first for the fiery woman Kashmiri politician known for her soft spot towards Islamabad.
But after she reached Srinagar, her office issued a statement giving a more placatory picture.
The statement said during her talks with Modi, Mehbooba was said to have advocated a “reconciliatory” approach towards separatists as well as Pakistan for peace in Kashmir.
“Mehbooba outlined a three-pronged action plan before the Prime Minister for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, including involvement of separatists and Pakistan in substantive dialogue, to work out a solution to the problem in light of the contemporary geopolitical realities,” the statement quoted the Chief Minister as saying.
However, when she addressed the media in Delhi after her 45-minute meeting with Modi, she came out strongly against Pakistan accusing it of creating the ongoing trouble in Kashmir where people seething with anger have been persistently holding violent anti-government protests for the past 50 days.
At least 71 persons – including two policemen – have been killed since the July 8 killing of pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen’s Kashmir commander Burhan Wani.
“I want to tell Pakistan, if it has any sympathy for Kashmiris, it should stop provoking (Kashmiris) to attack police stations,” she said in Delhi, asking Islamabad to mend its ways and stop triggering violence and causing deaths in the valley.
But the statement issued in Srinagar said that Mehbooba spoke about “the reconciliation and resolution process with a fresh resolve”, urging Modi “to take bold political initiatives on Kashmir as was done by (his predecessor) Vajpayee”.
She stressed on “the need for initiating a credible and meaningful political action on the ground to make peace and stability a reality in the state” and invited the separatist Hurriyat Conference for “a meaningful dialogue process for the peaceful resolution” of the Kashmir issue.
During her days in the opposition Mehbooba – a strong votary of self-rule – openly used to question Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India. “Accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India has proved counter-productive,” she once said at a north Kashmir political rally.
Mehbooba’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a relatively new entrant in the ideologically divided political spheres of Jammu and Kashmir, where nurturing a pro-Pakistan sentiment has been a potent tool for politicians since long to attract voters.
Former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) head A.S. Dulat has succinctly described in his memoir “Kashmir: Vajpayee years” this character of Kashmiri politicians “speaking in different voices” in Srinagar, in Jammu and Delhi – right from Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to Mehbooba.
Dulat wrote about politicians’ liking for the green colour in Kashmir where almost all political parties except for the National Conference and Peoples Conference have green party flags.
“When Muslim United Front (MUF) was formed in 1987, it chose green as its flag’s colour. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s favourite colour is green, which she uses while campaigning. All militant organizations make free use of green,” Dulat writes.
Mehbooba also drapes herself in full green during public rallies in Kashmir. She has a pen and inkpot as her party symbol – the same that Syed Salahuddin, the supreme commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit, used when he fought the infamously rigged assembly election of 1987.