April 1999 News

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India, Pak bitterness must end: Farooq

29th April 1999
Hindustan Times

Washington, (HT Correspondent): Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah made an impassioned plea here yesterday for an end to bitterness and strife between India and Pakistan so that the two peoples can progress together.

Addressing a mixed audience of diplomats, past and present, US officials, think tank experts and journalists at the Henry L. Stimson Center here, Dr Abdullah countered the suggestion by a Pakistani diplomat that terrorism in Kashmir could not be sustained without the motivation of the people, and the problem could not be solved by India and Pakistan without involving the people directly. “If Pakistan tomorrow stops sending people over the border, checks the camps where training is given, I assure you it will come to a dead end,” the Chief Minister declared. Having made that clear, he went on to comment on the perils of non-co-operation between the two South Asian neighbours. “Please do not ignore the very heavy price we have paid for having two nations,” he said. “The leaders of the two countries at the time paid for power with the lives of millions.”

Dr Abdullah pointed out that there were 4 million Muslims in Kashmir, but there were 200 million Muslims in India. “Now you are asking the price of 200 million Muslims.” Sadly, there were many in India who have doubts about trusting the Muslims who now wanted change after the rest of the country had sacrificed and done everything for them. “Would Pakistan live with the idea of the death of so many on their hands?” the Chief Minister asked. “It is in the larger interest of humanity that I ask: For God’s sake, let us call it a day. Enough innocent blood has been spilt.”

Dr Abdullah pointed out that before the conflict of eight years, there were no Army garrisons in his State. Now in Doda district alone, there were five garrisons. There had been no need to pass draconian laws. “Whether it is the bullet of the terrorist or of the soldier, it is the Muslim of Kashmir who is dying,” he said. “Is Pakistan gaining anything from it?” The Chief Minister urged that both countries accept the Line of Control as the international border and work to make that border peaceful. The two countries had to talk to settle issues rather than keep the flame of destruction burning. Otherwise, the result would only be destruction of both countries. When the two countries acquired sophisticated arsenals, the only ones who gained were the manufacturers of the weapons. The quality of life in the two nations did not change.

Dr Abdullah felt that the current moment provided the best opportunity for wiping out the bitterness of the past. Many in Pakistan feared for a long time that India had not accepted partition or the reality of Pakistan as a nation. The Chief Minister felt that such a visit could not have been undertaken by any other party in India. “If any settlement of problems between India and Pakistan comes about, there is no better party than the BJP which can bring it about,” he said.

Besides, Premier Nawaz Sharif is now coming to a position of being a real leader after President Ayub Khan. He has been able to control the Army to an extent and he is holding the reins of the bureaucracy. “I feel these two fellows can bring about a change in the situation,” he said. Asserting that peaceful settlement is the only way, Dr Abdullah said, “No power on earth will be able to take Kashmir from India. Nor can India take what you hold as POK without bloodshed on a massive scale.” He also listed the advantages to both nations from resuming bilateral trade.

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