‘By holding conference in Srinagar, we have shown GoI that dialogue with different political shades is possible’
Srinagar: Diplomat turned politician, Congressman Mani Shankar Aiyar on Tuesday said that talks between Government of India and stakeholders should not stop, as dialogue “is the only way” forward.
He said that even if need arises Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) should be ready to talk to militants too.
“They (BJP) should do that. Because if they don’t then guns will start talking,” said Aiyar who was in Srinagar to attend a seminar titled ‘J&K: The Road Ahead’. The event was organized by the Centre for Peace and Progress.
Aiyar while reacting to the statement of BJP President Amit Shah, that Kashmir is a problem of three and half districts, said that the British also “used to say same thing” about India.
“Lord Linlithgow who was the Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1944 also used to say that the struggle of India is a problem in a few districts. (But) then we achieved freedom. So when Amit Shah says that it’s a problem in a few districts, he is very wrong,” Aiyar asserted.
The former cabinet minister admitted that everyone including the Congress, which he represents, has committed mistakes regarding Kashmir “which are responsible for the present circumstances”.
“Is hamaam mein sab nangay hain. (Nobody is innocent here),” Aiyar pointed out.
He added, “if Congress wouldn’t have committed mistakes, would we have been facing such a situation? Had National Conference not wronged, maybe we wouldn’t have come to this. Had PDP also refrained from committing mistakes, maybe the situation would have been different.”
However, he asserted that no political party can claim that they have “committed sins less than the other”.
“We are all sinners. As I said: ‘Hum sab nangay hain’ but to say this that you have committed more sins than me, that is not acceptable,” said Aiyar.
He also said that that the motive of the conference was to “show” the government of India that people of “different political shades who don’t agree with each other can be brought together and dialogue is possible”.
“We have shown the government of India that every political shade can be brought together and a dialogue can take place. If a small organization (Centre for Peace and Progress) can make it possible, which has limited resources, they are not political or rich then why can’t the government of India do the same,” Aiyar asked.
He further added, “So our motive has been achieved by holding this meet. We have shown the government that people who disagree with each other can sit together and talk and find a solution to the Kashmir issue.”
Aiyar, the former ambassador of India to Pakistan, also said that how can he meet Prime minister Narendra Modi “when his own senior party member, Yashwant Sinha, couldn’t do so”.
“Now I am being told that I should go and tell PM Modi about Kashmir. How can I do that? Modi’s own party member Yashwant Sinha came here and did what we are trying to do. Since he went back, he has been asking for 5 minutes to put his word forward. When he couldn’t do it, why would Modi Ji listen to Mani Shankar,” he explained.
‘Hope to reach Modi through Hina Bhat’
Aiyar said that he was ‘very happy’ to see local BJP representative Hina Bhat attending the conference and added that that “through her his words might reach Modi”.
Hina unsuccessfully fought 2014 J&K Assembly Elections from Amira Kadal constiturncy.
“I was very happy to the see Hina Bhat here. In the previous three years to fight me on TV debates, BJP people are always available. However, to listen to me, they are not ready for that. So, I thought if I can’t reach Modi, I can at least reach Hina Bhat. However, she left before I started to speak. I hope through media she will come to know what I said. I hope through her, my words will reach Mr Modi,” Aiyar said.
He also expressed pleasure on what little known Hurriyat Conference activist Abdul Majeed Banday had to say. Banday during his allotted time said that Hurriyat Conference believes in peaceful resolution of Kashmir which “will come only through dialogue”.
Aiyar while reacting to this said, “If this is what Hurriyat (Conference) believes in then why won’t BJP talk to them?
‘Population of peaceniks in Pakistan increasing’
Regarding dialogue with Pakistan, Aiyar said that he has been advocating dialogue with the neighbouring country since his days as ambassador of India there.
“I have stayed there for three years. During my stay, I have said that Pakistanis are peace loving people and we would get their support if we start the dialogue process,” Aiyar asserted.
He further added, “In the past 35 years, I have been to Pakistan 35 times. I go there to check that have the peace lovers, peaceniks turned war mongers. I can say that the population of peace lovers has grown.”
‘Will broadcast Kashmir’s view from Delhi’
The Congressman also said that he will “spread the word” once he reaches Delhi regarding Kashmir. However, he added that those people who have shut their ears need a ‘specialist’ to open them up.
“What should be the solution? I said in the beginning that I have not come here with a solution, not that I don’t have one in mind. We came here to listen to you (people of Kashmir), take your suggestions regarding a solution,” Aiyar said.
He further added, “And I would like to add that I don’t know a single Congress leader also who would like to know what we did in Kashmir. The best I can do is what we heard here we can broadcast that from Delhi. People who are ready to hear will do that. Those who have shut their ears, we need a super-specialist to open those ears. I am not the one.”
‘Old Mehbooba should come back’
Aiyar, while questioning who is ruling Kashmir – whether the J&K government or New Delhi – said that the ‘old’ Mehbooba Mufti should make a comeback.
“I wish the old Mehbooba (Mufti), who used to speak in debates and seminars, comes back. I think then something will happen,” Aiyar hoped.
He also took a dig at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that a “permanent solution to Kashmir issue will be found in a year”.
“I would like to know what have they (BJP) done in past three years,”Aiyar asked.