Farooq for economic sanctions against Pak
7 June 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abduallh today sought economic sanctions against Pakistan if international pressure does not deter it from continuing cross border terrorism. War is no solution to the problems but the patience of Indians should not be tested who have been at the receiving end for so long, Dr Abdullah said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television network here this morning. He said innocent civilians have been falling like ducks to Pak bullets and the heightened tensions on borders have forced migration of over a lakh population. Cultivation in border areas has been affected and the Government has to take care of the displaced population. Pakistan, he said, has added a new dimension to terrorism by targeting minority pockets on mountains to flare up communal violence in rest of the country. On being asked about the possibility of war and its intensity, the Chief Minister said the situation on borders is tense as the two armies are standing in eye- ball to eye-ball position. He reiterated India’s yearning for peace and hoped that Pakistan will help in creating a situation that will avert war. But, if it goes ahead in its machinations, what option is left with India, he asked while asserting that the last thing he would say was destroying the camps if Islamabad does not listen to sanity. Though destroying camps would not solve the problems yet those perpetrating violence could get a lesson, he added. To a question whether he was comfortable with the US stance on easing tension between the two countries, Dr Abdullah felt that if America could bomb Al-Qaida and Taliban cadres in Afghanistan, what stops mighty India in doing so. But, he added that war brings only destruction and ‘we are not for it’. He said if the situation continues to be as it is now, the chances of war some day could not be ruled out. He said 8 to 14 people are getting killed in the State every day, economy has shattered and the future of younger generation seems bleak. Tourism being the backbone of State economy, nobody turns up due to terrorism unleashed from across the border, he said. About US concern over the situation in the sub-continent, Dr Abdullah said that since its troops are stationed in Pakistan, America’s focus would naturally be on finishing Al-Qaida and Taliban cadres. Their Pak based troops would suffer in the event of Indo-Pak conflict. Elaborating on Indian keenness to avert war with Pakistan, the CM said the nation has exercised utmost restraint, which is evident from the fact that it did not cross over the line of control during Kargil incursion. He said the Prime Minister announced cease- fire twice to bring about peace in the region but unfortunately this was utilized by ultras to strengthen their bases and stock arsenal to be used against innocent civilians. Asked to comment on the observations of Defence Minister George Fernandes that if Islamabad makes use of nuclear weapons against India, Pak will perish itself, the Chief Minister said that his views should be taken as an honest assertion. ‘India has depth to sustain nuke attack, but the survival of Pakistan would be at stake in retaliatory nuclear response’, he maintained while citing the fall out of Chernobyl atomic power plant incident, the scars of which are being felt even now. He agreed that such a situation would be quite dangerous for peace and hoped that Pakistan will stop cross border terrorism and threatening India. To start with, Islamabad must hand over the demanded 20 terrorists, some of whom are involved in plane hijack to Kandhar. If Lebanon could surrender two bombers who are facing trial in Hague, why can’t Pakistan follow the suit? He said it is Pakistan that is supporting and abetting terrorism and not India. To the question on continued infiltration despite positioning of forces on the frontiers, he said the border is so porous that it is impossible to plug all routes. He referred to the suggestion of the Prime Minister about joint patrolling and regretted that ultras were getting through to this side under the cover of shelling by Pak army and with their active support. The Chief Minister replied a volley of questions on autonomy, Hurriyat and donning the mantle of Chief Ministership by Mr Omar Abdullah. He rejected the suggestion of banning Hurriyat Conference, saying that India is a democracy where freedom of expression is guaranteed. He said the 23-party amalgam is free to express its views and it is for the people to give their judgement. The leaders of the Hurriyat Conference have divergent views, with some supporting Pakistan, some talking to the centre and some advocating so called azadi,but, they are afraid of facing the people in elections, he said. Dr Abdullah said the state legislature has passed the resolution on autonomy that has been the main plank of National Conference Government. It is now with the Centre for consideration, he said, adding that autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir will satiate the urges and aspiration of the people. To a question about his possible elevation as Vice President of the country with Omar Abdullah replacing him, he quipped that he was doing well as Chief Minister of the State while Omar was performing excellently as a union minister. In a message to the Arab world through Al-Jazeera network, the CM wished them best and hoped that they will ponder over the fact that the great religion of Islam was being portrayed wrongly by some elements inimical to peace. ‘Muslims are being suspected all over the world’, he felt, hoping that the Muslims around the world will help in erasing this impression by discarding those engaged in terrorism.