Hurriyat on road to nowhere, says Farooq Abdullah
16 April 2001
The Asian Age
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, on Monday shrugged off the Hurriyat Conference’s stance refusing to hold peace talks with the Centre’s negotiator, Mr K.C. Pant, unless its delegation was allowed to visit Pakistan. “They are losing window of opportunity and will repent,” he said. Dr Abdullah ruled out the possibility of India talking to Pakistan on Kashmir unless there was a “discernible decline in trans-border terrorism.” “Nobody can force New Delhi to talk to Islamabad,” he said. Wishing success to Mr Pant in his latest assignment on Kashmir, the chief minister described the initiative as a “good beginning.” Although Mr Pant has already extended a first set of invitations to several leaders and groups, including the Hurriyat Conference, the main amalgam of the Kashmiri secessionist organisations has, refused to speak to him. But Dr Abdullah was optimistic that the other groups would fall in the line. In the first phase, New Delhi will talk to leaders of various groups in Jammu and Kashmir and then it may think of talking to Pakistan, he said. Asked specifically about the Hurriyat Conference’s stand on the issue, he said: “Those who will board the boat would ultimately reach the shore one day, and those who keep standing on the shore would reach nowhere.” Dr Abdullah added the Hurriyat Conference is losing window of opportunity and will repent. Dr Abdullah, who is also the president of the National Conference, said that the J&K ruling party will play an “important role” in this peace process. He hailed the dialogue initiated by the Centre and said talks alone can bring peace in the militancy-torn Jammu and Kashmir. He lashed out at jihadi outfits for “spilling the blood of innocents every day in the name of jihad” and asked where did the Holy Quran permit “such barbaric acts.” Neither Islam nor any other religion justifies “such inhuman acts,” he said. Administering stern warning to the Lashkar, the chief minister said his government “will not spare such killers and wherever they are found, the security forces will deal with them sternly.” “Everybody must know once for all that Jammu and Kashmir will never become part of Pakistan, come what may,” he said. Dr Abdullah ridiculed the talk of azadi and said that if Pakistan was so concerned about people of Jammu and Kashmir why then did it stop implementation of its ambitious navigation lock at Wullar in the Valley which would have generated considerable electricity to the relief of the people. “But Pakistan was never sincere towards Kashmiris and is only making our people the cannon-fodder,” he said. The chief minister made a special mention of the killing of political leaders and workers and said that it was the duty of the government to take care of their families. “After all, they have laid down their lives for India and their families will not be left uncared by us.” The chief minister urged the people, especially the newly-elected councillors, of the border areas to be vigilant against Pakistan’s “nefarious designs” and asked them to extend help to the security forces in preventing infiltration from across the border. He said fencing of the international border in Jammu and Kashmir has started and it will take some time to complete it. “But in any case, it is also the duty of the people to safeguard the country’s solidarity and keep an eye on anti-national elements. It is a wrong perception that protection of border and safeguarding the solidarity of the country is the sole responsibility of the Army,” he added. The chief minister promised his government would empower the panchayats with necessary authority and funds to make the Panchayati Raj system effective and result oriented. He said the state government was ready to even to promulgate ordinance to aimed the Panchayati Raj Act to strengthen these institutions and make them effective instrument of rural change.