Shabir Shah for federal solution to Kashmir tangle
20 December 2005
NA: This, he says, will make every group to feel empowered, thereby strengthening the unity of the State Apart from plebiscite, he is prepared to discuss any idea taking care of people's interests JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party chairman, Shabir Shah, has said that a federal solution to the Kashmir tangle was the viable option for the people of the State. He plans to start an all-State movement in this regard to elicit the views of the people. Talking to The Hindu in an exclusive interview here, Mr. Shah said: 'I am committed to the federal solution to the State and solving the problems of the State with all its complexities.' This is the first time in the separatist camp that a leader of Mr. Shah's stature has desired a federal solution to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir. International game plans According to Mr. Shah, there were international game plans at work on Jammu and Kashmir and obviously people of the State should have a direct stake in it. He added that he had been clamouring for 'an independent State of Jammu and Kashmir' but he also believed in a democratic, federal and secular Jammu Kashmir. Only under a federal set-up, every group of the State would feel empowered and this would go a long way in strengthening the unity of the State, he added. Asked whether he had given up the idea of a plebiscite in the State, Mr. Shah, who is better known as the Nelson Mandela of Kashmir owing to his long years of imprisonment, said: 'I know the idea has been given up by even the President of Pakistan, General Musharaff. My party's stand remains that people of the State should be directly involved in the final solution to the problem. If there is any idea which takes care of the interests of the people apart from plebiscite, I am prepared to discuss the formula.' According to him, the basic fact was that diversity was the strength of the State.