At a time when all eyes are on Jammu and Kashmir where the Centre plans to hold talks with all stakeholders, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is determined not to let this chance be frittered. Calling it “our priority” and “what we always wanted’’, she has promised that her “government will do everything to facilitate this dialogue process”.
On Friday, Mehbooba Mufti will be the guest at the Express Adda in New Delhi. The Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organised by The Indian Express Group and features those at the centre of change.
The Chief Minister believes that by appointing a representative to hold talks in Kashmir, the central government has finally taken an important step towards reconciliation. On October 23, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh named Dineshwar Sharma, former Director of Intelligence Bureau, as the Centre’s special representative. A day later, Mehbooba Mufti told The Indian Express: “This is the beginning of a political process. The Centre has finally taken a very serious step forward.”
“When Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) spoke on Independence Day, the message was clear that he wants reconciliation, a process of rapprochement, to be the mainstay of the government’s Kashmir policy. I knew that they were looking for a credible face since August. The appointment of this interlocutor, a retired officer whom we know very well, is part of that process of reconciliation… it is an important move forward,” she said.
“Unlike most such processes earlier, Government of India has taken ownership of this initiative. Unlike the interlocutors sent here by UPA government, this interlocutor is the official representative of the Government of India. He has been given a Cabinet Secretary rank and, thus, the government is owning it up officially. Unlike the previous interlocutors (during UPA rule), he will speak on behalf of the Government of India and his report will be the government’s own report,’’ she added.
She said her party, the PDP, has always advocated that “engagement alone will help move forward in Kashmir… it has always been an article of faith for us and our entire politics has been revolving around this theme ever since our (PDP) inception. In fact, this principle is also at the centre of the Agenda of Alliance that brought us together with the BJP to form a coalition government here’’.
At the Express Adda, Mehbooba Mufti will be in conversation with The Indian Express National Opinion Editor Vandita Mishra and Deputy Editor Muzamil Jaleel.
Past guests at the event include the Dalai Lama, economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, filmmaker Karan Johar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, writer Amitav Ghosh and cricketer Virat Kohli.