India, Pakistan talks urged to resolve Kashmir dispute

Zahid Rafiq

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, on Monday called for dialogue between India and Pakistan, and blamed the Indian media for creating an atmosphere of mistrust and war.

Speaking at the Jammu an-d Kashmir Legislative Assembly, Mufti said: “Dialogue with Pakistan is necessary if we are to end the bloodshed.

“I know I will be labelled anti-national by news anchors tonight but that doesn’t matter. The people of J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] are suffering. We have to talk because war is not an option.”

“Our borders are witnessing, god forbid, a bloodbath. Our Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] often talks of development but at the same time, something opposite is happening in our state.

“Our schools are shut and children are trapped inside their homes.”

Mufti is the highest-elected official in the disputed valley and is in a coalition government with the Hindu rightwing Bhartiya Janata Party that rules India.

Mufti and her party came under severe criticism and lost the majority of their supporters in the region after the coalition since one of their primary planks for the 2014 elections was to stop the march of rightwing BJP to the Muslim majority, Jammu and Kashmir, region.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region. (AA)