A day after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate talks with Pakistan, Union minister Jitendra Singh on Sunday said the decision to hold or not to hold a dialogue with Islamabad is purely the Centre’s prerogative.
The BJP on Saturday hit back at the PDP for its remarks that delay in resumption of a dialogue between India and Pakistan has the potential of undermining the Agenda of Alliance of the PDP-BJP government and said such remarks could lead to mistrust and add to confusion among the people.
“The decision to hold or not to hold talks with Pakistan is purely the Centre’s prerogative and only the Government of India is in a position to take a call on this,” Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters on the sidelines of the BJP State Working Committee meeting at Suchetgarh, near here.
Asked to comment on Mehbooba’s statement that India should hold talks with Pakistan at the earliest, Singh said he “is not qualified to answer whether or not and when India should hold talks with Pakistan because he is not privy to the sensitive inputs and confidential reports, based on which, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs take a view”. He, however, said, any decision in this regard is beyond the purview of the J-K government.
Without naming any political party, Singh said even going by the ideological positions taken by Kashmir-centric political parties espousing demands such as autonomy, these parties have also, in their policy documents, left the management of foreign affairs to the central government.
Lauding the security forces for eliminating eight militants in a single operation in the Kashmir valley today, Singh said, “Our security forces are doing a commendable job and the nation is eternally indebted to them. We are approaching the last phase of militancy,” he said, claiming the common man in Kashmir, particularly the youth, has already moved ahead.
On the deliberations at the BJP State Working Committee meeting, the minister said the coalition government in the state has completed three years in office, even though it was being claimed by the opposition parties, particularly the Congress and the National Congress, that this government will not last even three days. He said the working committee meeting, held every three months, was a part of the BJP’s traditional curriculum offering an opportunity to review the activities and experiences and to chalk out the future road map accordingly.
At a function yesterday organised by a group of Kashmiri Pandits owing allegiance to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba said that war was never an option. “Reconciliation is the mantra which we need to follow and therefore, I request Modi ji to engage with Pakistan,” she said.
In a statement, BJP spokesperson Anil Gupta on Saturday said, “The BJP has refuted the repeated claims being made in the media by Sartaj Madani, PDP vice president, that dialogue with Pakistan was the first and last condition for forging alliance with the BJP.”
Madani had on Friday said that delay in resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan has the potential of undermining the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) of the PDP-BJP government. He had said the AoA was a commitment to the people to resolve the Kashmir problem through “reconciliation and dialogue”.
The AoA, which formed the basis for PDP-BJP forming a government in Jammu and Kashmir, was an express commitment to the people of the state on resolution of Kashmir problem through reconciliation and dialogue, he had said. Madani also said that a delay in resumption of sustainable dialogue and revival of peace initiatives between India and Pakistan were causing worries and had the potential of undermining the AoA.
Gupta responded by saying that such “selective quoting from the AoA can lead to mistrust and add to confusion among the people”.
The BJP spokesman said he coalition government was formed without any pre-conditions to provide a stable and representative government that would work towards providing smart governance, ensuring self-sustaining and balanced development across the three regions of the state and to create conditions to facilitate resolution of all issues of J and K.