How do you rate the BJP-PDP alliance?
The two parties are working in perfect tandem. No alliance is easy, most have small issues… you have seen it in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh. Even traditional partners have issues. Compared to that, the alliance has had smooth sailing. That does not mean we agree on each and every issue. But in spite of those ideological and issue-based differences, the two parties have been able to run affairs quite smoothly.
Leaders of the two parties have issued contradictory public statements…
There is no major contradiction as far as governance issues are concerned. There are a couple of issues on which we hold different viewpoints, for example, on how to tackle terror incidents. If you take the latest issue of an FIR naming an Army official (after the Shopian firing), we said it should not have been done. Barring such cases, we do not have any contradictory stances.
But don’t differences like this undermine the state government’s position on an incident?
As far as naming of the Army official in the FIR is concerned, we said it’s a wrong step. But you must remember, an FIR is not a statement of guilt. When any congnisable offence takes place, police are bound to file an FIR… This FIR only says so and so officer led a battalion of the Army through that area when the incident took place. Still we said naming the official was not correct. Legally, remedial measures will be taken. But if one says FIR should not be there, the law does not permit it.
The Centre and the CM have also differed over the issue of talks with Pakistan.
Talking or not talking to Pakistan is not for the Jammu and Kashmir alliance to decide, but the government of India. Mehboobaji can have a view, because she feels that if the two governments talk to each other, there could be de-escalation of violence. But the alliance cannot take a view, its view is limited to the affairs of the state. Having said that, there can be a view that talks are necessary for restoring peace along the LoC. This does not mean that Pakistan will get away with all the wrongdoing.
If the CM feels India-Pakistan talks will help contain infiltration and bring peace in the Valley, allow her to have her view. But she is not going to decide it.
Is there any internal mechanism between the partners to ensure that public posturing does not affect governance?
We have a coordination committee. It’s a state-level arrangement and, whenever necessary, Central leaders intervene.
You were the architect of this alliance. Are you satisfied with the implementation of the agenda of governance?
One can always say we could have done better. But in J&K, the situation is always changing… you have challenge after challenge. Today, we have been able to bring peace to the Valley. Barring attacks by militants, the Valley is peaceful. There is a rise in tourist inflow, the winter tourist season went off well. But challenges like holding the Amarnath Yatra are there.
PDP minister Naeem Akhtar has talked about China playing a role in Kashmir through the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
As per available evidence, the JeM has its headquarters in Pakistan, with a leader who has been named by the UN as a terrorist. Nevertheless, he (Masood Azhar) is protected by the Pakistan establishment, both the government and Army. All other opinion is the view of individuals. When Azhar was to be declared a terrorist or for the JeM to be banned, China intervened and scuttled it. So one might surmise there is a connection. But it is a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist organisation.