Jammu: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Saturday confirmed that "informal talks" were on with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to work out a common minimum programme (CMP) for a stable Jammu and Kashmir government.
Sayeed said the interests of the state and its people alone will guide the party in its bid to form a stable and representative government in the state.
Addressing the party`s electoral college that met Saturday to elect the PDP president, Sayeed said depending upon the areas of convergence a coalition would be formed on the basis of the CMP.
"We are in track two negotiations with BJP. We may differ in our vision and priorities but an attempt is being made to find a common ground to evolve consensus on all issues to carry forward the peace process and political and economic agenda," he said.
But the former state chief minister stressed that an alliance with any party will be principles and policies-based.
"I assure you and the people of Jammu and Kashmir that I will never sell my mandate and will not compromise on the basic issues on which the people have reposed trust on PDP just for the sake of power."
Once a consensus is reached following the "informal talks", Sayeed said his party will depute its senior party leaders for holding a "structured dialogue" with the BJP.
Admitting that a decisive but fractured mandate has thrown up one of the biggest challenges for his party, Sayeed said the PDP will take up the challenge "only if I feel that by entering into an alliance I will be in a position to connect people of all the regions and work for the welfare of the entire state".
"We have the necessary material and capacity in the form of our leaders and policy makers to take up the challenge and do what people have voted us for...we are confident that we will achieve the distinction to give a stable, accountable and representative government."
Reiterating that peace was a pre-requisite for the state`s economic viability, Sayeed said that the central government will have to address the Kashmir issue by holding a meaningful dialogue.
"We have time and again reiterated that neighbours cannot be changed and it was time we must engage Pakistan in negotiations to ensure peace in the sub-continent.
Stating that it is actually "under the ambit of the prime minister`s power to decide on the foreign policy matters" , he said: "However, it is also clear that any hostility between India and Pakistan has a direct impact on Jammu and Kashmir and its people... We want to bridge the gap between the two neighbouring countries for ensuring peace in the region."
He also said that the country`s leadership has to respond and respect the faith reposed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir in a democratic process. "The best way to do that is to remove the impression that Jammu and Kashmir is being governed by military law," Sayeed said while calling for the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in a time-bound manner.
Sayeed said the loyalty of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to the country is viewed with suspicion ...they have to prove it whether it is about studies, job search, passport or even finding a residence.
"The state of Jammu and Kashmir has suffered due to the Indus Water Treaty as the interest of the state were not taken care of when such an agreement was entered into," he added.
Mufti sought strengthening of the cross-LoC trade and travel in the coming days.
Jammu and Kashmir, he said, has to be developed as a showcase of the country and we should not shy away from allowing the people to come and feel the difference. "Similarly, the trade that was started on Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote route has to grow beyond its barter character and it needs to be institutionalised by providing banking facilities so that people of all the regions of the state benefit from free trade".