Shah to PM : Kashmir already broken away
9 October 2000
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Former chief minister and Awami National Conference chief Ghulam Mohammed Shah has urged Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to demonstrate his willingness to resolve the Kashmir problem once and for all. Mr Shah said that at the moment only one option existed to pull Kashmir out of the crisis it is faced with and that is to hold a trilateral dialogue among all the concerned parties. He said that India should realise that Kashmir was not its “atoot angh (inseparable part). Yeh angh toot chooka hai (it is already broken).” The former chief minister was addressing a press conference after a working committee meeting of the Awami National Conference that dwelt on several issues ranging from census to autonomy and militancy. Mr Shah said that time has come for the militants to recognise the fact that guns should give way to talks. “Talks alone can deliver a permanent solution to Kashmir crisis,” he said. He said that there was “a need for concerted efforts by all to keep the gun aside and take recourse to dialogue and negotiations for resolving the imbroglio created by the blunders over the past five decades. This is only possible through a negotiated settlement of all outstanding problems.” Mr Shah suggested that “The dialogue must necessarily be held in an atmosphere of openness, sincerity and with best interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the two parties in question the government of India and Pakistan in mind.” He said: “Peace will arise from a permanent tripartite settlement of the problem for which a conducive atmosphere must be created first. An ostrich-like policy of trying to shy away from reality will serve no purpose, in fact it would further delay the peace process.” The former chief minister regretted that neither India nor Pakistan had demonstrated the requisite pragmatism in understanding and seeking a solution to the Kashmir problem. While answering questions on the current issues facing Kashmir, Mr Shah said that as per his understanding through media reports it was Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence that derailed the government of India-Hizb talks in July-August this year. Mr Shah also decried the census. “How can a credible census be held when so many were away from the Valley. Besides, the census could not be conducted in the Kashmir Valley and the border areas of Jammu region.” He also said that “Kashmir was incomplete without Kashmiri pandits. Their restoration to Kashmir was a must.” He appealed to the militants to work in this direction, rejecting the suggestions of trifurcation.