To Recoup Lost Political Ground, Mehbooba Mufti's Challenge to Centre

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has attempted to recoup some of the political ground she has lost after her party, the PDP's alliance with the BJP.

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To Recoup Lost Political Ground, Mehbooba Mufti's Challenge to Centre

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti declared she will not allow end of cross-border LoC trade

SRINAGAR: 

Highlights

  1. Mehbooba Mufti pitched for deepening cross-border exchange with PoK
  2. She declared she will not allow end of cross-border LoC trade
  3. NIA says route being used to finance terror, wants it to be scrapped
At her first major political rally after last year's unrest in the Kashmir valley, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday pitched for deepening cross-border exchange with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, political consensus to take steps to end the bloodshed in the state and "heal the pain" of Kashmiris.

She also vowed not to allow the Centre to shut down the Uri-Muzaffarabad trade route just because some mistakes had been made. Drugs come from the Wagah border too but nobody talks about shutting it. "There should be (full) body scanners (for trucks) so that we know what is coming in and what is going out from here," she said, pitching for more trade routes.

The National Investigation Agency was reported to have favoured stopping this trade route because there had been instances where it was used to finance terror. A few days back, nearly 70 kg heroin was also seized from a truck entering from PoK.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was speaking at the foundation day rally of the Peoples Democratic Party that her father founded in 1999, building on perceptions in the valley that the Farooq Abdullah government was leaning too heavily in favour of Delhi.

As it expanded its base over the next decade or so, the PDP didn't attempt to disguise that its symbolism and rhetoric echo a soft separatist sentiment. Its shrill campaign against the BJP in the last assembly election won the PDP its highest tally but the PDP-BJP alliance has cost her political capital, leaving a widening vacuum in the state.

Over the last week, Ms Mufti has attempted to recoup some of the lost political ground.

When Kashmiri separatist leaders including Shabir Shah were arrested and bundled off to Delhi within the last one week, she made her displeasure known. At an event in Delhi on Friday, she went ahead to warn that no one would be left to shoulder the tricolour in the state if the special status was tampered.

Ms Mufti also frowned at the arrest of separatist leaders, asserting that such administrative steps would not resolve the state's problems.

Picking up from where she had left, Ms Mufti today called for revival of the dialogue process, underling that the state "was facing an ideological challenge".

"And you cannot imprison an idea, you cannot kill an idea," she said, hinting her disapproval to the centre's approach to contain the problem in the state by security measures and economic packages alone.

The PDP president also spoke about student exchanges so that children living on either side of the Line of Control could get to know each other better and even filling up 24 seats in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly - meant for the territory under Pakistan's occupation - that have remained vacant.

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