In this interview with The Kashmir Walla, Naeem Akhtar, a senior People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and minister for Public Works and Culture in Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet, says that the PDP would want recently announced unilateral ceasefire by the centre “to last forever, and not only for Amarnath Yatra or Ramzan.”
The PDP came into alliance with the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) after 2014 elections, much against people’s opposition, mainly in Kashmir valley. During the tenure of the government first under PDP patron Mufti Sayeed for one year and then his daughter Mehbooba Mufti, the coalition government has come under harsh criticism for its alliance and the worsening of political situation.
In response to a question that why the PDP asked for a ceasefire now, when in last three years more than 400 civilians have been killed, Akhtar says that “the gun is on rise, especially after this year because of militancy and anti-militancy operations. So that is something where we have to keep a break on.”
He also took potshots at National Conference patron and Lok Sabha member, Farooq Abdullah, who recently said that “it is the right time for the governor to take over.” Akhtar responded that it is very unfortunate that Abdullah’s statement has come on a very wrong time. “I think he should be contributing to the discourse of Kashmir rather than doing a bickering for what he knows cannot be done…” he added.
The PDP has also failed to address some critical issues that were mentioned first in its election manifesto and then in the Agenda of Alliance – a document drafted as a backbone of coalition with the BJP. But Akhtar believes that the PDP-BJP coalition is an important experiment.