November 2000 News

Pakistan failed to ignite Shia-Sunni riots in J&K: Abdullah

6 November 2000
The Times of India

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah here on Monday said that the Shia-Sunni riots that ''our neighbour (Pakistan)'' had hoped to ignite through the assassination of Congress leader Agha Syed Mehdi did not take place, as the people were now beginning to see through Islamabad''s designs. Speaking to reporters soon after inspecting a ceremonial guard of honour to mark the shift of capital to Jammu, Abdullah, however, added ''We haveinformation that militants might have actually targeted the Special Operations Group men (who were escorting Mehdi). Shia leader Iftikhar Hussain Ansari has twice escaped being targeted by militants.'' While standing by his assertion that turning the Line of Control into the international border was the ''best available'' solution to the Kashmir problem, the chief minister said that at this juncture, the only point of talks with Pakistan could be to ask that country to stop cross-border terrorism. Enumerating the ''challenges'' that his government faces, Abdullah said the biggest challenge was the ''neighbour'' which did not understand that peace with India, instead of issuing ''war threats,'' was the best course for it. Regarding the demand for trifurcation of the state, Abdullah said: ''There will never be trifurcation of the state. Agitations of this nature have been going on since the Praja Parishad days.'' Abdullah said that, since his government came to power, the pro-Pakistan mood in Kashmir had ''practically disappeared.'' The security situation had also improved, though there were sporadic incidents. Development at a rapid pace was another challenge, he said. ''While the Centre stressed development, sufficient funds were not forthcoming. The Centre, no doubt, has its own difficulties. But we are fighting militancy and need special consideration.'' Regarding the delay in finalisation of the state''s annual plan, he said that the state had checked up the ''discrepancy in figures'' pointed out earlier, and the plan will be finalised soon.


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