Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Saturday that “Kashmir has become such a vulnerable spot for the country that now even China wants to beat us up with the same stick”. Speaking to The Sunday Express soon after she met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Mufti said that “earlier it was only Pakistan, but now China too has starting talking about and raising the Kashmir issue, and it is a matter of serious concern”.
“We are concerned because whenever our country has a confrontation with any of our neighbours, we in J&K have to pay a heavy price for it. Pakistan has always been doing it and now China too has started talking,’’ she said.
Mufti said the “only way to face this new reality is that instead of using Kashmir as a political issue to divide public opinion, parties across the political divide should come together” and “the country should be united on Kashmir”.
“These new developments make it very clear that an approach where every political party comes together on Kashmir is urgently needed… the way when India had a confrontation with China on a Bhutan-related issue, there was an all-party meeting where leaders from across the political spectrum rose above their politics and put forth a united front,’’ she said.
“Whenever there is a confrontation with Pakistan also, all the (political) parties in the country come together and show that the country is united. Unfortunately, that’s not the case regarding Kashmir. What is happening in Kashmir isn’t a mere law and order problem. It is much more than that,” she said.
Stating that “J&K is not a law and order problem and it doesn’t help to look at it as a mere law and order problem”, Mufti said: “It is a 70-year-old political problem. It has internal as well as external dimensions. There is the issue of infiltration. This shouldn’t be seen as a law and order problem for the government of a particular party.”
“Foreign hands are involved and unfortunately now, China is also interfering,” she said. “External forces are involved in the Kashmir unrest and until the whole nation and all the political parties are united, we cannot win this fight.”
While she has earlier blamed Pakistan for the unrest in the state, this is the first time that Mufti has pointed a finger at China. Her statement comes at a time of tension between India and China over the Doklam border issue.
Mufti said “the fact that China has started talking about Kashmir” exhibits another aspect of “the external dimension to our (Kashmir) problem”. “Instead of political blame game, we wish that the country shows a united front on Kashmir too, and political parties desist from making Kashmir and happenings in Kashmir into an issue,” she said.
“The way the recent border issue with China was not made into a political issue between rival political parties of the country because it was seen as a national issue where the entire country has to stay united, we want a similar approach on Kashmir because Kashmir isn’t any different,” she reiterated. “The way leaders representing every shade of political opinion, including the government, exhibited a united front at the all-party meeting called to discuss the recent confrontation with China yesterday… Why doesn’t such a thing happen in the case of Kashmir too? Why aren’t political parties coming together on Kashmir too,” she asked.
Sources said that the meeting between Mufti and Singh lasted for over 30 minutes, during which they discussed, among other issues, security measures for the Amarnath Yatra. Mufti, according to sources, also mentioned Singh’s statement on ‘Kashmiriyat’. “The Chief Minister thanked Singh for supporting the state in tough times,” said an official who was part of the meeting.
“The Amarnath Yatra attack was carried out to cause communal tension in the state, but the entire country and political parties have stood together and condemned the attack,” Mufti said later.
She said that she “always keeps on talking about the need for a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir problem” because she is “convinced that there isn’t any other way available with us that will help to resolve it”.