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Strikes were not needed, peace is: Mehbooba

PDP chief and former chief minister condemns IAF strike saying educated privileged people are cheering on at the prospect of a war

By Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar
  • Published 27.02.19, 2:33 PM
  • Updated 27.02.19, 2:33 PM
  • 2 mins read
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Mehbooba Mufti Picture: Prem Singh

Kashmir’s top pro-India leaders on Tuesday called for calm following the Indian air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Pakistan, but former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti stood out as the lone voice criticising the move and the subsequent cries for war.

Her rival Omar Abdullah walked a thin line and did not cheer the strikes. Mehbooba, however, openly called the move an “unnecessary retaliation” and said the war cries by the educated elite were a sign of “ignorance”.

“If my aversion to unnecessary retaliation & subsequent war makes gullible people question my nationalism then so be it. I would rather bat for peace & save lives than sacrifice countless ones just to satisfy collective egos and misplaced sense of pride & patriotism,” Mehbooba, the People’s Democratic Party chief and former chief minister, tweeted.

“Todays IAF strikes were followed by mass war hysteria on twitter & news channels. Most of these people are ignorant who have suspended the use of common sense. But its disconcerting that educated privileged people are cheering on at the prospect of a war. This is true jahaalat (ignorance),” she wrote in another tweet.

Mehbooba, who was a BJP ally for years and is trying hard to resurrect her pro-separatist image following the break-up last year, urged Pakistan to “adopt a reconciliatory stand as opposed to further escalation”, adding that Kashmir would be the “biggest casualty” if things spiral out of control.

Omar, a National Conference leader and former chief minister, said war was never an ideal option to resolve disputes, and called for calm.

“JeM (Jaish) hit Indian forces & claimed the attack. In turn Indian forces hit JeM & owned that air strike. It’s now time for cooler heads to prevail,” he tweeted.

Omar hit out at “those looking at today’s air strikes through a political/electoral prism”, an apparent reference to the BJP.

“It might be worth remembering that PM Vajpayee went in to the 1999 elections with nuclear tests AND victory in Kargil under his belt & still only returned to power with a coalition,” he tweeted.

Fearing an escalation, Omar has asked his workers to help people in border areas “in case of a Pakistani misadventure”.

On Monday, Mehbooba and Omar had lodged a strong defence of Article 35-A, which allows residents of Jammu and Kashmir alone to buy immovable properties.

Mehbooba had said any move to scrap the article would render Kashmir’s accession with India null and void. Omar had warned of a situation uglier than that in Arunachal Pradesh, which is facing protests on a similar issue.

BJP ally and separatist-turned-pro-India politician Sajjad Lone also batted for talks, but appeared to be backing the air strikes as well.

“Pacifist to the core I am. But the reality as it stares in our faces is that this retaliatory action will actually be the start of the unlearning process for Pakistan. This will set the benchmark for deterrence. And eventually crowd out cycle of violence,” he tweeted.