THE leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), have decided to participate in meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on June 24. On Tuesday, the leaders met at the residence of the grouping’s chairman and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah to decide their course of action. Earlier, the parties had held consultations within their own parties on Delhi’s outreach. Speaking on behalf of the alliance, Abdullah said that Mehbooba Mufti, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami and he himself will attend the meeting and present their position to the prime minister.It will become clear on Thursday what the centre has up its sleeve. The meeting has no agenda. But the people generally expect the statehood, delimitation commission and the elections to be discussed. It seems out of question that the centre will be willing to discuss the reversal of the withdrawal of Article 370 that granted J&K its special status under India’s constitution. But for now the return of statehood would be a welcome step in Kashmir. People would certainly want elections to take place and an elected government in power. It is now for over three years that the former state has been under a central rule. So, people would want the elected representatives they could approach to resolve their issues.As for Article 370, the only remote hope it could be reversed is if the Supreme Court overturns government move. But so far the court has not found time to hear the petitions challenging the revocation of J&K autonomy.Be that as it may, the centre’s decision to call J&K political parties for a meeting is a welcome decision. More so, as it is being chaired by the prime minister himself. The meeting may not immediately find a solution to the current troubles of the union territory but it will certainly set in motion a process that could do so in the weeks and months to come.Some observers are looking at the development as part of the ongoing back-channel talks between India and Pakistan. It could very well be so. The two countries have reportedly been engaging to sort out their issues since December last year. And both the neighbours have been working on confidence building measures to take the process forward. But whatever the motivations for the current outreach, it is a welcome initiative. Much more so, for Kashmiris who have not only been the victims of the lingering conflict between the two neighbours but have also immensely suffered during the uncertainty of the last two years.
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