Omar Pitches For Ireland-type Peace Process On Kashmir

Omar Pitches For Ireland-type Peace Process On Kashmir

28 October 2013
Greater Kashmir


London: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is of the view that the State can never be independent and will always remain under Indian sovereignty, but believes that Britain's Northern Ireland peace process and devolution in Scotland could 'inspire' a future settlement. The state is landlocked and lacks natural resources, Omar said in an interview to the UK's Telegraph newspaper, underlining why it can never be fully independent. But the peace process in Northern Ireland and the devolution in Scotland could 'inspire' a future settlement in which 'sovereignty is not threatened but you recognize the nationalist sentiment that exists and you evolve that,' he is quoted as saying. Omar was referring to a deal in Northern Ireland in 1998 which led to a power-sharing government after prolonged violence and the devolution in Scotland under which Britain created a Scottish Parliament with powers to make laws on a range of issues. The Chief Minister was angry at the Pakistan army's attempt to 'sabotage' peace talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York last month. He blamed Pakistan's army for the upsurge in cross-border attacks this year and cited the infiltration of four insurgents who crossed into Jammu and attacked the police station and an army camp killing a high-ranking army officer and three soldiers. He saw that as an attempt by the Pakistan army to sabotage the Singh-Sharif talks. The newspaper recalled that Omar was born in Essex in the UK and quotes him as saying that his British background had given him a 'broader outlook on life' although there were disadvantages too. 'There are those in my line of work who quite happily use this against me, and suggest because I was born here (the UK), I have no business being in politics here (Kashmir),' Omar said. Forty three-year-old Omar 'maintains a clam detached style despite his state's notoriety for high emotions and polarized politics', the Telegraph said. It said Omar does not believe al-Qaeda's call for a Kashmir jihad will galvanize insurgency which has largely been contained and weakened since he became Chief Minister five years ago. Nor does he believe that the Britain or the US will allow Pakistan to encourage fighters returning from Afghanistan to trickle back into Kashmir. The Chief Minister had supported former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf's 2005 peace plan which proposed demilitarization, greater autonomy without change of existing borders. Omar said he was more 'realistic' now about the prospects but still believes a settlement can be reached in his lifetime.