Mehbooba hails appointment of interlocutor, Omar cautious

Srinagar: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday welcomed the appointment of former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as an interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir while National Conference leader Omar Abdullah sought clarity on his mandate.

In a statement posted on her Twitter handle, Mehbooba Mufti said: “Dialogue is a necessity of the hour and the only way to go forward.

“Welcome the initiative of the union government, appointing an interlocutor for leading a sustained dialogue with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Later, at a hurriedly convened press conference, Mehbooba Mufti hoped that all the stakeholders including the separatists would come forward with a positive response to the development.

Asked whether the appointment of the interlocutor would have a bearing on the NIA investigations going on against the separatists, she said: “Security is a separate issue and the political process is a separate issue.”

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, however, sought clarity on the mandate of the interlocutor.

He posted on his widely followed Twitter handle: “The ‘legitimate aspirations’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is an interesting formulation. Who gets to decide what is legitimate?”

In another tweet, he said: “The acceptance of the political nature of the Kashmir issue is a resounding defeat of those who could only see use of force as a solution.”

Abdullah, however, added that the fact that no preconditions had been placed by the central government on the dialogue offered through the interlocutor was a welcome development.

“One can’t get everything. So for now we’ll take what we can get. More important than the person is the mandate and absence of pre-conditions,” he said.