Want ceasefire forever… Farooq Abdullah should stop bickering, says Naeem Akhtar

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.

Kashmir needs independent journalism…

…now, more than ever to give a voice to the voiceless. The press in Kashmir has operated under tremendous pressures of reporting from a conflict zone but since August 2019 we find ourselves in unchartered territory. The Kashmir Walla is among the oldest independent media outlets in Kashmir and has withstood successive lockdowns as well as attempts to suppress us, fighting back with authoritative ground reports based on facts.

We believe in making the powers that be accountable to their actions but to also hold the mirror to the society. We believe in covering all sides of the story and that empowerment in essence means the ability to make informed decisions. As such we have not allowed our journalism to be influenced by the pressures.

Despite the new and still unknown pressures, we are all the more committed to keep informing you of events and stories that matter. Our recent coverage of events has brought us an increased readership. However, the coronavirus pandemic and resultant economic crisis has affected our operational capabilities. We are facing an existential threat but only your support can help us withstand this and maintain our editorial independence.

We need your solidarity to keep our journalism going. Your contribution will empower us to keep you informed on stories that matter from Kashmir. Show your solidarity by joining our members community. Kashmir thanks you.