India 'confident' Of Finding Kashmir Solution: Minister

13 October 2009

Srinagar: India is 'confident' of finding a solution to the insurgency in Kashmir, its home minister said Tuesday, promising to start a dialogue with the region's politicians soon. 'I am confident that within a short period of time we will be able to come up with some solution to the larger political problem of (Jammu and Kashmir),' Palaniappan Chidambaram said. 'We will have a dialogue with every section of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,' the minister said, referring to both pro and anti-India politicians. He made the comments as he addressed his ruling Congress party's top functionaries in Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital. Congress and the regional National Conference rule the state in an alliance. Moderate separatist politicians opposed to Indian rule have held several rounds of talks with New Delhi to find a solution to the ongoing insurgency that has claimed more than 47,000 lives by an official count. But hardliners who have the backing of armed militants are opposed to the talks and have demanded tripartite discussions involving India, Pakistan and the separatist leadership. They are also opposed to New Delhi holding talks with Kashmir's pro-India politicians who have never questioned India's rule. Chidambaram said the dialogue with Kashmiri leaders would start soon. 'We mean that dialogue process will start and we will take it to its logical conclusion,' he said at the high-security Congress headquarters, which has been the target of rebel attacks. Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan each hold a part of Kashmir but both claim it in full. Islamabad denies charges by New Delhi that it funds and arms Kashmiri militants. Violence has declined sharply in Indian Kashmir since the neighbours began a peace process in 2004. But New Delhi has put the process on hold after last year's deadly attacks in Mumbai, which it blamed on Pakistan-based militants. Earlier, Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah urged New Delhi to initiate dialogue with Kashmiris and resume talks with Pakistan. 'While we are highly thankful to New Delhi for the unprecedented and liberal financial support to reconstruct our social and economic infrastructure, the political issues equally require focusing both internally and externally,' Abdullah told a conference of Indian editors in Srinagar. He said all voices should be heard 'to take the right and best decision for finding out a solution' to the Kashmir dispute. India wants Pakistan to punish the militants believed to have masterminded Mumbia attacks that killed over 160 people. 'Pakistan should recognise the Indian concerns and act in a positive direction so that the composite dialogue takes off without any further delay,' said Abdullah.