The coming together of PDP and BJP is regarded as marriages of convenience and such tie-ups rarely involve a change of heart. Political expediency dictated the coming together of the two parties in a coalition government in the state, and neither party could have been expected to shift ideological positions so soon after the swearing-in. The statement of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed crediting Pakistan, Hurriyat and militants for the smooth conduct of the Assembly election was thus hardly a surprise. He was addressing his political constituency when he made the statement, and not his partner in government, the BJP. Evidently, the Mufti and the PDP see the tie-up with the BJP as a tactical retreat and not as a strategic advance, as a temporary “governance alliance” necessitated by the nature of the mandate and not as a long-term “political alliance” on the basis of any shared interests or vision. They know they will have difficulty in selling the alliance, by whatever name it is called, to their core support base. Avoidable and indiscreet the Mufti’s statement might have been, but it was certainly not out-of-character. The PDP’s need to collaborate with the BJP on administration will have to coexist with its need to ideologically confront the Hindutva party on every issue of political importance, whether it be Article 370 or the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
What is of political import is not whether the election was peaceful because of any restraint shown by Hurriyat and militants or because of the vigil of the forces. While opposition parties, quite understandably, want to use the opportunity to embarrass the BJP over this issue, the Centre cannot be blind to the fact that a solution to the Kashmir issue would necessarily have to include Pakistan. If Pakistan is part of the problem for India in Kashmir, it would also have to be part of the solution.
The BJP-led government is sometimes prone to impulsive reactions, as was evident when the Foreign Secretary-level talks were called off last year after the Pakistan High Commissioner met with leaders of the Hurriyat. The Sayeed’s statement should not be allowed to queer the pitch for India’s continued engagement with Pakistan on Kashmir and other bilateral issues. The Hurriyat and Pakistan would have to be on board for New Delhi’s efforts to find a solution to the Kashmir issue to succeed. J&K should not be allowed to become hostage to politicking, whether by the PDP in Kashmir or by the Congress and the BJP at the national stage.