Turn LoC Into Border, Says Farooq

5 December 2015
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Saturday called for converting the Line of Control (LoC) into an international border to resolve the Kashmir issue. Speaking at a public gathering here on the 110th birth anniversary of party founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Dr. Abdullah said: 'Converting the LoC into an international border is one viable option rooted in realism. People on both sides of the LoC cannot continue to suffer for ever for want of a lasting political solution to the issue.' Defending his earlier remarks that 'India cannot take away Pakistan-occupied Kashmir from Pakistan,' the former Chief Minister said: 'Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and a war is not the answer. Those who think that borders can be redrawn need to realise the realities and dimensions of this conflict.' But he added: 'While this is one such solution, we are open to any other viable solution that is acceptable to both India and Pakistan, and primarily to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.' 'It's time to end this perpetual suffering as the costs of this conflict cannot be borne by the people of Jammu and Kashmir till eternity,' he said. Dangerous drift Calling for a 'political engagement,' Dr. Abdullah said: 'Complete lack of a political direction and narrative vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue is dangerous.' Dr. Abdullah and his son Omar welcomed Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's forthcoming visit to Pakistan. 'We hope Ms. Swaraj's visit will improve relations and help to carry forward the dialogue process' Dr. Abdullah said. Welcoming the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Paris last week, he said: 'We do not know what they talked, but let us hope they find some way of resolving this [Kashmir] issue.' However, Dr. Abdullah said, there was no talk of the issue in the State and in New Delhi. 'Both the PDP and the BJP entered into an agreement to sideline this core issue. The NC has always encouraged both New Delhi and Islamabad to address the issue and we will continue to make this crucial demand.' After offering fateh (prayers for the departed soul), Mr. Omar Abdullah, NC working president, said: 'Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's legacy of selfless leadership and commitment to the timeless ideals of pluralism and secularism need to be emulated today to defeat forces out to divide the people of the State for political dividends.' Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, in an official statement, showered praise on Sheikh Abdullah, though without mentioning his title Sher-i-Kashmir. 'Sheikh Sahab was the tallest visionary leader of his times. His significant contribution shaped the political landscape of the State in tune with its multi-cultural ethos. He pioneered land reforms and delivered the unique concept of single line administration,' he said. BJP targets NC Accusing the NC of 'preaching secessionism,' BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangeer said: 'The people of Kashmir still remember former rulers Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Mir Qasim for remaining firm on their stand. They had never worked up any false dream. However, NC leaders have always misled the masses for serving their own interests.'