Have announced Kashmir talks at a time of our choosing, when terrorists are on the run: Arun Jaitley
New Delhi: Union Minister Arun Jaitley, a senior member of the Narendra Modi Cabinet, has spoken out in favour of the Central government’s move to start a ‘sustained dialogue’ with ‘all stakeholders’ in Kashmir.
Speaking to Times Network, Jaitley also hit out at the Kashmir policy adopted by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
“We have gone from a stage of no policy under the UPA to a defined policy under the present government,” the Finance Minister told Times Network.
“The UPA had first announced a five-member working group. The group, however, never met. We never got to see the chairman. Whatever report was submitted was a farcical one,” he said.
“It was a silent, non-existent dialogue… there was no policy at all under the previous regime,” he added.
Jaitley said after taking over, it took the NDA government a year or two to take control of the situation due to the ongoing unrest and stone pelting.
“The Centre has now blocked terror funding and the separatist Hurriyat Conference stands exposed,” the minister said.
“It is the first time in 25 years that terrorists are on the run,” he added.
“We have appointed an interlocutor for Kashmir at a time of our choosing. We have a structured policy where the Indian state and its institutions are in a position to say these are our people and we are willing to talk to all of them,” Jaitley stated.
Jaitley’s remarks came shortly after the Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday rejected the Centre’s peace talks offer.
In a move that displayed sheer hypocrisy of the Hurriyat, its senior leader Moulvi Abbas Ansari said that there can be no talks until Pakistan is made a part of the dialogue process.
Choosing Pakistan over peace, Ansari, who is considered to be one of the moderate voices of the separatist group, said they want a tripartite arrangement where Pakistan is included.
“Till the time all three parties sit together, the issue cannot be resolved,” he said, referring to the governments of India and Pakistan, and Kashmiris.
On Monday, in a sudden shift of its tough stand, the government had announced talks with all stakeholders on Jammu and Kashmir and appointed former intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma as its pointsman for the troubled state.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the move was to carry forward the “the conviction and consistency” in the government’s Kashmir policy.
“We have decided that a sustained dialogue process should begin in Jammu and Kashmir.”
“People told us that the dialogue process should be started. We are doing this,” Rajnath Singh said and recalled the Prime Minister’s August 15 speech saying “neither by bullet, nor by abuses but by embracing the people we can solve the problems in Jammu and Kashmir”.
In his first reaction, Sharma said restoring peace in the valley was his top priority.
The measure is significant because the BJP government at the Centre had constantly maintained a tough line on opening peace talks with separatists in Kashmir, particularly after the 2016 unrest that left over 100 civilians dead.
The move came at a time when some separatist leaders, including close aides of Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq – are jailed on charges of receiving cash from Pakistan for subversive activities in the valley.