India will never agree to tripartite talks on Kashmir, says Advani

23 March 2008
The Daily Times

Islamabad: Former deputy prime minister stresses difference of approach to APHC * Says he refused to entertain any proposal outside constitution By Iftikhar Gilani NEW DELHI: India will never agree to tripartite talks between itself, Pakistan and Kashmiri leaders as a solution to the Kashmir issue, Indian former deputy prime minister LK Advani has said. In his recently published book, ‘My Country, My Life’, Advani wrote that his approach to dealing with the separatists had been significantly different to that of Brajesh Mishra, National Security adviser, and AS Dulat, former RAW chief. He said he had become upset at the impression doled out by Dulat, who was serving as an adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Jammu and Kashmir, that the government was prepared to look at solutions to the Kashmir “issues” that were not within the purview of the Indian constitution. Rejected: He rejected the claims of the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, that he (Advani) had agreed to entertain any proposal “outside the Indian constitution” when they held talks with him in 2004. Advani also wrote that he and the APHC leaders had agreed to adopt a “step-by-step approach that would lead to the resolution of all outstanding issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir”. The former deputy premier said that, during the dialogue, he had emphasised three points: “our firm commitment to peace, our flexibility on all reasonable issues raised by Hurriyat, and our uncompromising position on Jammu and Kashmir being an integral and inseparable part of India”. He also praised pro-freedom leaders who met him during his tenure, saying he found them to be genuine, earnest, and to some extent, open-minded in their interactions. In another part of the book, Advani also exposed the pro-India National Conference (NC)’s trivialising of its own ‘baby’, the autonomy resolution passed by the State Assembly on June 26, 2000. He said that then chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had preferred to remain in power with the Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rather than press for the implementation of the State Autonomy Committee (SAC) report, which had called for the restoration of the pre-1953 constitutional status. After the Union Cabinet rejected the autonomy resolution, then premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee firmly told Dr Abdullah that it was up to him to decide whether he would continue with the NDA at the Centre. “We advised him (Dr Abdullah) against pressing for the implementation of the SAC report. Indeed, Atal-ji told Dr Abdullah to decide whether to continue in the NDA at the Centre following the Union Cabinet’s rejection of the state assembly’s autonomy resolution. To his credit, Dr Abdullah allowed the issue to lapse,” he added. Advani also said that he had informed the parties involved that the issue of restoring the constitutional situation to its pre-1953 status had been settled in the 1975 accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. “This agreement had clearly affirmed that provisions of the constitution of India already applied to the state of Jammu and Kashmir without adaptation or modification,” he said.