The first female chief minister of Kashmir took the oath of office on Monday to become the head of the state government in the India-controlled territory. Mehbooba Mufti, 56, assumed the role that her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had held before his death in January. But the succession was not clear-cut. Mufti is the head of the pro-India Peoples’ Democratic Party, which shares leadership over the region through a coalition with India’s Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata, of which India Prime minister Narendra Modi is the head.
Mufti and Modi met last month to discuss the coalition and Mufti’s request that Modi take “confidence building” steps to improve Kashmir if she were to assume leadership. The two parties have been at odds over major political issues, including the right of Kashmir to have its own special constitutional status that allows it to make its own laws, but Mufti’s swearing-in ceremony marks a tentative agreement to move forward with the coalition, according to The Guardian.
Mufti has a history of working toward peace in the region, according to The Hindu newspaper. She became a legislator at age 39 and began visiting Kashmir militant’s homes and families in a show of sympathy for their cause, earning their political allegiance in future elections. She also originated the slogans “peace with dignity” and “healing touch” to describe Kashmir’s attitude toward its contentious relationship with India.