November 2007 News

Islamabad Alone Can Drive Out A Solution To Kashmir: Omar Abdullah

16 November 2007

Srinagar: COMMENTING ON the progress in the ongoing Indo-Pak dialogue, National Conference (NC) chief Omar Abdullah said, 'since the governments in Delhi and Islamabad are weak, there has not been much success in the talks on Kashmir and in the confidence building measures.' He added, 'the Manmohan Singh led government in Delhi is faced with difficulties in pushing through Indo-US nuclear deal which may have a bearing on the Indo-Pak dialogue on Kashmir. Islamabad alone can drive out a solution to the Kashmir issue.' He said that whether the strong government is run by Parvez Musharraf, or by Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif, it can, through sustained dialogue with India, resolve the Kashmir issue. In an informal chat with newsmen during luncheon hosted by NC MLC Devinder Singh Rana in Jammu, Abdullah said, 'we want a stable Pakistan because that can settle the Kashmir issue and ensure peace in the subcontinent.' In reply to a question he said, 'After the imposition of emergency in Pakistan, the graph of violence in Jammu and Kashmir has gone up. It seems the incidents of violence have increased after general Musharraf placed Pakistan under emergency,' he said adding, 'After of gap of over two years, one more municipal councillor belonging to the National Conference was killed by militants in Kashmir.' Abdullah wore a smile on his face and it never diminished while answering a battery of questions from journalists on national and international issues. In reply to another question, the NC chief said, 'there is a possibility of the violence graph registering an upward curve in Jammu and Kashmir, if the establishment in Pakistan orders a crackdown on militants.' He said there is a possibility that groups of militants may try to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir to escape arrest and elimination. Abdullah said that militants could register their presence by resorting to gun and grenade attacks in order to create a scare among people, so that they do not venture out to participate in the next election. He expressed his amazement over the way militants claimed responsibility for incidents that had not been engineered by them. 'It was surprising that for the recent arms depot explosion in Khundroo in Anantnag district, more than one militant group had owned responsibility, when the explosion had been accidental,' he said. The National Conference leadership foresees possibility for preponing the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir and sees a bleak scope for the organisation to have some pre-poll alliance with the Congress. Abdullah said, 'I feel that the government may hold the Assembly poll, scheduled to be held in October 2008, somewhere between April-May period.' In support of his contention he gave two main reasons. He said that the month of Ramadan was scheduled to end by the first week of October and electioneering was not possible during the month of fast. 'You cannot expect people with hungry stomach to participate in the pre-poll campaign,' he said. Secondly, he said that the annual Amarnath yatra may start somewhere in June and the pilgrimage puts a heavy burden on the shoulders of security forces. The security forces, tied with yatra, could not be available for ensuring an incident free poll. He at the same time said, 'if the ruling alliance finds that the NC has better prospects for victory it may not opt for preponing the election.' Asked whether the election could be held by the end of October, Abdullah said, 'as per the constitution, the new Assembly has to be constituted by October 9, 2008.' He said that the formation of the Assembly was not linked with the formation of the government but with the constitution of the Assembly. Replying to another question he said, 'Though nothing is certain in politics, the prospects of a pre-poll alliance between the NC and the Congress are bleak. I do not think the alliance will materialise.' In reply to a question whether the National Conference will repeat the 1996 pre- poll alliance with the BSP in Jammu, Abdullah said, 'so far there has been no contact with the BSP.' When a newsman asked Abdullah his opinion on whether the Congress or the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) was a lesser political evil, his sparkling eyes twitched and with a smile said 'there is nothing like political evil in politics.' 'Yes, for the National Conference, which has strong roots and bases in the Kashmir valley, the PDP is its main political foe,' he shot back. He added, 'While the PDP finds in us its arch political rival, we too hold that the PDP is our main political enemy. Hence we target our guns against each other.' Asked whether there was a possibility of separatists taking part in the next election he said, 'I do not find any chance for this.' He explained, 'so long India and Pakistan are engaged in talks for finding a solution to the Kashmir issue, separatists may not take the risk of joining the poll process.' He added 'on one side, the separatists have given a call to people for poll boycott and on the other, they cannot take part in it. And if the separatists take part in elections, the polling percentage may swell.' 'Yes, there can be a possibility for some separatists to field dummy candidates as was done by Peoples' Conference in 2002 election,' he stated. NC Chief caused a flutter in the Press club when he said, 'I and my colleagues will select party candidates for the next Assembly poll. As chief ministerial candidate, it is the duty of Dr Farooq Abdullah to make the NC candidates win.' This indicates that the son is inclined to leave the responsibility of getting absolute majority for the National Conference in the Assembly to the party patron, Dr Farooq Abdullah, who has announced his decision to campaign for the party in the next election, while he had stayed away from the poll din in 2002. 'We have no differences in the party as far as our choice of putting Dr Abdullah as a chief ministerial candidates in the next poll is concerned,' Omar Abdullah said.


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