February 2001 News

Give me PoK, take Art. 370: Farooq

15 February 2001
The Asian Age
Yusuf Jameel

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Thursday, taking a dig at the BJP, offered to do away with Article 370 of the Constitution if India gains control of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, including Gilgit and Baltistan, which Islamabad claims are its northern areas. “I will do away with the Article 370 if (and when) you get me Azad Kashmir and the northern areas,” Dr Abdullah told BJP members sitting in the Opposition benches while winding up the discussion on the motion of thanks to the governor’s address in the state Assembly, now in its Budget Session here. Article 370 guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir within India and the BJP and its supporting political and religious outfits have been asking for its abrogation on the plea that it would clear the way for complete integration of the predominantly Muslim state with the rest of India only after the same is removed from the books. The party, however, put the demand on the backburner when it led the NDA government into power at the Centre for its partners are against such a move. Dr Abdullah wants the Line of Control to be made the de facto border between India and Pakistan. But Parliament had a few years ago unanimously passed a resolution saying that PoK, including Gilgit and Baltistan, is an inseparable part of India. Dr Abdullah made a mention of this resolution during his 90-minute speech but then, evidently taking a dig at the BJP, said he would abrogate Article 370 in lieu of the Pakistan-held territory returning to India. “Would you do that,” he asked them. He refuted the allegation that he was trying to scuttle the peace process initiated by the Prime Minister or that the graph of militancy has increased during National Conference rule. “It is not a proxy war of Pakistan... we are fighting a full-fledged war for our country,” he said, adding, “Even today, when they (Pakistan) do talk about peace, they send in killers to target innocent people in my state.” Dr Abdullah said it was ridiculous to say that he and his party were against the peace process. “We are only sacrificing our lives to defend our nation,” he said. “How long this war will continue is anybody’s guess,” he added. The chief minister said Islamabad does not reciprocate Indian peace moves. When an Opposition member asked him what options were left, Dr Abdullah retorted: “Laton ke bhoot baaton se nahin mante.” He suggested that a proactive policy was the answer to the militants. Dr Abdullah asserted he was not against holding a dialogue with Hurriyat Conference leaders. “If those nearer and dearer to Pakistan, those who off and on dine with their high commissioner in New Delhi, come closer to the Centre, what objection can I have,” he said. “This full-fledged war that we are faced with cannot be fought or won alone, without the active support of the Centre, the Opposition and every single countryman,” he said.


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