Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday justified Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision of not attending the SAARC Summit in Pakistan, suggesting he could not travel there under the present circumstances. "SAARC was to happen in Pakistan and I had hopes that our PM will get an opportunity to go there but how will he go? Under what circumstances will he go there," she said.
India, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan, have decided not to attend the 8-nation Summit because of unabated cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, the venue. "The Prime Minister went to Pakistan as an uninvited guest (in December last year). Why did he need to go there? He went there for us (people of J and K). He understood that till both the countries do not live together, the people of J&K will continue to face miseries.”
"He walked a step but unfortunately there was an attack in Pathankot. But immediately afterwards, the statement of (NSA) Ajit Doval came and he did not blame anyone, which was good. Instead a team from Pakistan came and they were shown the evidence. Pakistan only registered an FIR against one person but unfortunately nothing happened afterwards,” She said. The Chief Minister advocated joint use of resources of all SAARC countries.
"SAARC countries have so many resources - Nepal has its own, Bangladesh and Pakistan have their own, Afghanistan and our country have their own and then Bhutan has its own. We could have used these resources together but it has not happened unfortunately," Mehbooba said. Maintaining that war is never an option to resolve the issues, Mehbooba pitched for amicable relations between India and Pakistan to fight the poverty and economic deprivation plaguing the region while underlining the need of a bilateral dialogue to resolve the issues.
"The two nuclear-armed neighbours must cooperate in the fields of social development, including eradication of poverty and with their growing economies and energy needs, and the need for newer, more diverse markets and trading opportunities, the future of the troubled region has to be defined by common economic interests instead of hostilities," she said. The chief minister said instead of fighting wars with each other, India and Pakistan should join hands to eradicate poverty and to address social problems plaguing the region.