Omar Said Nothing Wrong On J&K Accession: Krishna15 October 2010
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Lending support to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today said he found nothing wrong in his statement that the State had acceded and not merged with the Union of India. 'I donít think Omar Abdullah has said anything objectionable. It is a fact that Jammu and Kashmir has acceded to India just like Mysore acceded to India,' Krishna said here when asked how he saw the Chief Ministerís statement recently. Krishna, during an interaction with a group of journalists, noted that like in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the Maharaja of Mysore had also signed an accession treaty 'and I am a citizen of Mysore'. Abdullah had said in the Assembly that the State had only acceded and not merged with Union of India and could not be compared to Junagarh and Hyderabad. The statement had triggered a controversy with BJP criticising him for it. At the same time, the External Affairs Minister asserted that Jammu and Kashmir is a 'legitimate part' of India. To a question on China issuing stapled visas to those hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, he said New Delhi has made it clear to Beijing that it was not acceptable and that there was need to be sensitive to each otherís concerns to build relations. 'We have conveyed to them (China) that we do not accept the stapled visas and we are not going to accept these,' Krishna said about the Chinese refusal to issue visas to people from J and K on their passports, an action which amounts to questioning the Stateís integration with India. Meanwhile, making it clear that bilateral defence exchanges will remain suspended, India today asked China to respect its sensitivities on issues like Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh so that the relationship could be developed further. Against the backdrop of certain recent Chinese actions that amount to questioning Jammu and Kashmirís integration with India, Krishna hoped that Beijing would maintain 'neutrality' on the affairs related to the State as it has always done. He said the issue of Chinese assertiveness in the region recently will be one of the issues of discussion between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama during the latterís visit here next month. Krishna made it clear that defence exchanges with China, which were put on hold in July after a Lt General was disallowed permission to visit that country because he was serving in Jammu and Kashmir, will remain suspended. 'We expect China to be sensitive to our core concerns. That is how relationships are built, relations are nurtured. So we are asking China to respect our sensitivities like on Arunachal Pradesh and other issues,' he said. China denied permission to Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal to visit that country on an official trip as he was serving in J and K, an action which an upset India saw as questioning the countryís sovereignty and suspended defence exchanges. 'China has always maintained neutrality as far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned. So we hope they will continue to maintain that position,' Krishna said. He asserted Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, by virtue of its accession and what has happened over the last 60 years during which a number of elections were held in a democratic and transparent manner. Disagreeing that Chinaís shift in position on J and K had put strain on the bilateral ties, he said Beijing looks at things from a 'different perspective' and hoped that 'they will go along the Indian perspective'. Noting that China also expected India to be sensitive to its issues, he said New Delhi will be so 'without compromising our national stand in respect of borders and stapled visas'. Asked to comment on the growing Chinese assertiveness, Krishna said it is a power in the region and will make 'overtures'. India also is a power and will also make overtures but that 'does not necessarily mean that we are in conflict'. Krishna said India has 'good, working relationship' with China even though there are 'some outstanding issues' like border dispute for whose resolution mechanisms are in place. In this context, he said the 14th round of Special Representative talks on boundary issue will be held soon but did not specify when. 'There is willingness to resolve the issues,' he said referring to the unmarked boundary. On Chinaís claim over Arunachal Pradesh, he said 'we have always said that Arunachal is a part of India and there cannot be two opinions about it.' To press his point, he said elections have been regularly held in Arunachal with voter turnout being as high as 75 per cent and the State has sent its representatives to Parliament. Asked about India stepping up development of infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh close to the Chinese border, he said the State 'badly requires' roads, dams and other infrastructure facilities and the Centre was responding to its needs like that of any other State.