Kashmir issue can''t be solved without Pak co-operation: Omar
10 December 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Omar Abdullah, does not foresee a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem without Pakistan’s involvement and support. His message, obviously, is meant to remove confusion or misunderstanding on Pakistan’s relevance as a party to the issue. ''We have to involve Pakistan in dialogue process to resolve the Kashmir issue'', Mr Omar Abdullah told EXCELSIOR today after inaugurating the exclusive show-room of Hero Motors at Ruchi Automobiles here. ''No solution'', he asserted, ''can be found without the involvement of Pakistan in dialogue with India''. When asked about the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan, Mr Abdullah said that the talks between the two countries should be at ‘appropriate level’ to sort out the issue and added that early solution to this problem would be in the interest of not only the people of this State but also India and Pakistan. Mr Abdullah, who is also the president of National Conference, said ''it is still not known what Mufti Sayeed has in his mind when he talks about a solution to the Kashmir problem''. Referring to the Mufti’s expression of ‘political solution’, Mr Abdullah asked: ''What does it mean. Does it mean autonomy, accession with India or Pakistan ?'' He said the Mufti had not clarified what exactly he meant by ‘political settlement’. Mr Abdullah pointed out that in the ultimate analysis it was the Centre which would have to decide on the future political set- up of Jammu and Kashmir. Replying to a question, he said ''there is no denying that the NC is the single largest party in the State and represents all the three regions''. He added that Mufti’s party represented only Kashmir valley while Congress could be seen as influential in Jammu region. ''Let’s see what happens to the Mufti’s claim of enjoying the strength of 56 members in the Legislative Assembly after the impending expansion of his Ministry'', he said. In reply to another query, he said ''autonomy was the plank of only National Conference and before demanding autonomy we had taken the people of whole State into confidence. But people are still unaware of the Mufti’s much-hyped political settlement''. About the release of political detenues, the MoS External Affairs said ''when the National Conference came to power in 1996 there were around 7000 political detenues and at the time of leaving office only 1000 political prisoners were left in prisons''. Basically, he said, NC did it on the humanitarian ground and without seeking publicity but present coalition Government was trying to gain political mileage out of the release of detenues. On NC’s stand on constitution of screening committee, he said ''we are in favour of releasing detenues after taking necessary precautions and not in the haphazard manner''. He asked, ''why should we object to the formation of committee when it is going to screen the cases of detenues before release''. On the Mufti’s policy of ‘healing touch’, Mr Abdullah said ''we gave appointment letters under SRO-43 on a platter to the Mufti for further distribution among the affected families'', adding ''it was NC which prepared all the appointment letters but unfortunately we could not take benefit due to our own mistakes''. ''We had been giving apppointment letters under SRO-43 during our party’s Government but those giving credit to Mufti Government are talking without going through the record of SRO-43'', he said. On his resignation from Union Ministry, Mr Abdullah said ''Mr Vajpayee doesn’t want me to go that is why he is not accepting my resignation'', adding ''I have conveyed to External Affairs Minister Yashwant Singh and Prime Minister that in any circumstances I cannot continue and it is likely that my resignation will be accepted very soon''. The NC president said that he wanted to concentrate on the State and strengthen the party once again at gross-root level.