PDP to press Centre to hold talks with Pakistan, separatists: Beg

Ruling PDP in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday said it will press the Centre to hold dialogue with Pakistan and separatists, days after the scrapping of the NSA-level talks between the two countries.

Srinagar: Ruling PDP in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday said it will press the Centre to hold dialogue with Pakistan and separatists, days after the scrapping of the NSA-level talks between the two countries.

However, its partner BJP said separatists have to stop acting as "agents of Pakistan" and need to join mainstream like Sajjad Lone.

PDP chief spokesman Mehboob Beg said that restrictions imposed on separtist leaders in Kashmir, ahead of their proposed meeting with Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz in Delhi, were "routine" and the state government had not issued any direction.

He said the PDP would continue to convince the central government to talk to Pakistan and the separatists.

"Unfortunately, Kashmir bears the brunt of any problem in the relations between India and Pakistan. (Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed) Sayeed will continue to convince Delhi to hold dialogue," he said.

Beg said the restrictions on the separatist leaders were put by the police as part of the standard practice.

"The restrictions on separatists were routine. The Chief Minister did not know about it. He was in Uri (in north Kashmir for an official function) when he came to know about the restrictions on the movement of separatists. He immediately ordered the DGP to lift the restrictions and release all the separatists," Beg told PTI here.

"It was part of the normal practice. The police thought they will do it because they normally did that. Why should the PDP-led government put restrictions on them?" he said.

Asked about the curbs on some separatists in Delhi, Beg said his party was not in an alliance with the BJP at the Centre and cannot interfere in the working of the central government.

"We are not in alliance with the BJP at the Centre. (PDP president) Mehbooba Mufti is not a minister in the Union government. We are in coalition with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir only and without compromising on our political ideology," he said.

He said Sayeed was very clear in his conviction and commitment to peace and reconciliation.

"It is true that this coalition is the alliance of north pole and south pole. We have differences in ideologies but we have to respect the mandate of the people. But let us call a spade a spade, we have to talk (to Pakistan and separatists). There is no lack of conviction and commitment from Sayeed's side on this," he said.

"If people want more fruitful steps to be taken, the party should be given a much bigger mandate than what it has at present," he said. 

Beg blamed both India and Pakistan for the cancellation of talks.

Pakistan had called off the visit of Sartaj Aziz after India insisted that his proposed meeting with Hurriyat leaders prior to the talks was unacceptable. Also, India had objected to widening of the agenda for talks which were to be held on terror issue.

The PDP said though the Centre had some compulsions, there is no other option other than dialogue to resolve the issue.

"For some extent, the Government of India has its own compulsions... Then there are vested interests who use the media to build an opinion. They did so at the time of the release of Masarat Alam as well. But there is no option other than dialogue," he said.

He also said there were "internal pressures" on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that led to the cancellation of talks.

"He has his own internal pressures. There are some forces which keep him under pressure. I do not understand, if Pakistan had agreed to talk on terror which is affecting the country, what was their problem then (in cancelling the talks)," he said.

PDP's coalition partner BJP also brushed aside the criticism of the state government in handling the situation.

"The restrictions on separatists were outine as they are put under house arrest almost every Friday to maintain law and order.

"They (separatists) have been cut to size. They are a bunch of people who are directly getting directions from Pakistan to sabotage the interests of India," BJP spokesman Khalid Jehngir said.

He said though the party adheres to the 'Agenda for Alliance' ? the common minimum programme between the coalition partners, the separatists will have to "reform" themselves before the government begins a dialogue with them.

"We adhere to the agenda for alliance. But they do not have to be the agents of Pakistan. Let them be the agents of peace. Like Sajjad Lone, they have to come to mainstream today or tomorrow. The sooner, the better for them," he said.

The BJP spokesman said separatists have been rejected by the people

"There is an elected government in the state. Separatists have no say in anything. They have been rejected by the people as no one paid heed to their election boycott call. They are proxies of Pakistan in J&K. The Centre will take tough action against them if they do not shun their activities. Their wealth should be audited. They have taken hawala money," he said.

On the cancellation of talks, he said elected government has little say in Pakistan.

"It is the habit of Pakistan to change its stance because there are two governments. The main show is run by its Army. It is a failed state," he said.

Jehangir said the security apparatus of the state decides on putting curbs on separatists and there is no political interference.

"It is the security apparatus of the state which decides these things. We have no say in that. If the police feels the situation is conducive to let them go free, they set them free.

"The chief minister, who is also the Home Minister of the state, is free to decide on it if the security agencies feel their activities do not pose any law and order problems," he said.

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