Jammu: Dialogue is the only way forward for a resolution to the Kashmir issue, former chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said even as he held that nothing has been done to reclaim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir from the neighbouring country while reiterating views that have invited criticism.
“The only way left is to hold dialogue and find a solution (to the Kashmir issue),” the National Conference leader said at a function in Jammu.
“Ever since I came into politics, I have always said that this state (PoK and J-K) can never become one. Neither do we have the power to take back their part (PoK) nor have they (Pakistan) the power to take our part; we are a nuclear power and they, too, are,” he said at a discussion by civil society to explore the ways for bringing peace and reconciliation between the two countries.
“How much can the army defend us; even if the entire army of India came to our rescue, they cannot defend us against terrorists or militants. The only way left is to hold dialogue and find a solution,” he stressed.
Farooq Abdullah. AFP
He said he was hopeful that the Kashmir issue would be solved during the tenure of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but that did not happen.
In the wake of his comments on Friday, he blamed the media for hyping up his statement and said his views about Pakistan continuing to hold PoK and India keeping J&K could not be the only scenario and he would accept any decision which was acceptable to the majority of people in India, Pakistan and J&K.
“I never said it was the ultimate solution that they keep their part and we keep ours. If you have a better solution acceptable to a majority of Indians, Pakistanis and J&K citizens, it is also acceptable to us,” he said while urging that dialogue has to be started for reaching a resolution.
Referring to the 1994 Parliament resolution on PoK, Farooq said nothing has been done following its adoption unanimously to reclaim area under Pakistani occupation.
“They say there is a resolution in Parliament; but tell me what the Parliament has done so far to reclaim that part.
“You passed the resolution, tell me how many resolutions are there in United Nations regarding Kashmir; have any of those been implemented. People on both sides are suffering due to the cross-border firing,” he said.
Meanwhile, BJP on Saturday sought an apology from Abdullah for his remarks that “PoK is part of Pakistan” and said he was “deliberately raking up” the issue in order to remain in news for his political survival.
“For how many years have we been saying that it (PoK) is part of India. What have we done so far, have we ever taken it back,” he had said on Friday.
The former J&K chief minister said that even though Nawaz Sharif was heading the government in Pakistan, the real power was in the hands of the army there.
Further, claiming that if Pakistan army wanted, it would not take more than two minutes for it to get Sharif removed, he said, “The day problems between India and Pakistan are resolved, Pakistan army will lose its significance.”
He said that a former Pakistan external affairs minister had told him that before the Prime Ministers of the two nations decide to meet, all roadblocks that may impede any meaningful dialogue need to be removed.
On the issue of the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, he said that the country has till date not been able to accomplish that.
“When I tried to do it, the very same day two massacres took place in Ganderbal and Budgam in which innocent and unarmed Kashmiri Pandits were killed.
“How will the situation improve till the time Pakistan does not understand that this part of J&K will never become their part,” he said.
Recalling that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had tried to find a way out in Egypt’s Sharm-al-Sheikh, Abdullah said that the attempt had evoked a backlash in the country and within Congress.
“There was a hue and cry in India and even in his own party which said that if you talk friendship with Pakistan we will lose elections. Let these elections go to hell which divide the people,” he said.
“Every election makes India weak and does not strengthen it”, he said, adding that “we get divided into religions and even divide religion into small parts”.
Seeking to caution India and Pakistan against America, he claimed that the country was a friend of neither of the two South Asian neighbours and was only interested in selling its weapons to both.
Talking about the Kashmir problem, he said that it was not an economic but a political one.
“We are saying we have got a Rs 80,000-crore package, now we will do everything. This is not an issue of development. It is a political issue which has to be resolved. If it was only about money, then the country has already spent billions on this state, but the issue still lingers,” he said.
Meanwhile, in an apparent attack on PDP, he charged that “they (PDP) claim Abdullah used to say that we will drop bombs; ask them, when our houses were being blown, when our hospitals and schools were being blown, when our people were being fired upon because they were the ones who were carrying Tricolour, what was their fault.
“They were killed inside their houses. What should have Farooq Abdullah said, to keep quiet.”
Without taking any names, he further said that “man was being made an enemy of another man and now they are ruling and saying such things… they don’t have a conscience. God knows what attraction they have with each other.”
Turning to Pakistan, he stressed that he was proud to be an Indian and an Indian Muslim.
“I want friendship but I don’t want to be their slave. I am for sure a Muslim, but I am not a Chinese, Pakistani or an English Muslim; I am an Indian Muslim, I am born an India, live as an Indian and will die as an Indian,” he said.
“Today Farooq Abdullah is sitting amongst you, he might not be there tomorrow. Tomorrow, some terrorists will kill me but I am not afraid. I am only afraid of Allah,” he added.
He said that the need of the hour was to strengthen the unity amongst the different religions in the country.
“We have to strengthen the bond between Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and other religions and our survival is not possible without the survival of
India,” he said.