October 2016 News

Opposition Meets, Favours Talks On Kashmir Issue

14 October 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Azhar Qadri

Srinagar: The state's opposition parties today asked India and Pakistan to initiate a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue and demanded the release of political prisoners, including leaders of separatist groups, as a first step towards initiating this process. Former Union minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, who hosted the leaders of state's opposition parties, said the talks should be held with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat. 'It is important that political prisoners, including those of Hurriyat, should be released, and after that talks should be initiated to solve this issue,' Abdullah told reporters at his residence here. The meeting was attended by members of the Congress, led by their state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir, CPM state secretary Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, PDF's Hakim Yasin and DPN's Ghulam Hassan Mir. The opposition parties appealed to India and Pakistan to 'sit down at the table and try to settle their problems'. 'We appeal to both countries that war is not a solution, the only solution is dialogue,' Abdullah said. 'We appeal to the Government of India to initiate the dialogue process. We are all concerned about peace, whether surgical strike or not, I have nothing to say about it. India and Pakistan must sit down at the table and try to settle their problems,' Abdullah said. He said solving the Kashmir issue would also end terrorism in the region. 'Terrorism only increases when there is tension between the two countries,' he said. Saying the job of the Opposition was to 'find a way forward, not to find the way backwards,' he appealed to the government to call a special session of State Assembly, where opinions could be expressed which could lead to a roadmap for future. Abdullah said the opposition parties were in agreement that the situation was very dangerous. 'Sooner it is solved, it will be good for the state and for the subcontinent. This is a political issue and the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has also acknowledged that this has to be solved. A permanent solution has to be sought,' he said. The leaders of the state's opposition parties, including the National Conference, Congress, CPM, PDF, AIP and DPN, had first met in August when the region was in the midst of a paralysing unrest. Later, a delegation met President Pranab Mukherjee and the Prime Minister. Abdullah, who headed the state government thrice, also demanded an immediate release of children and others, who have been arrested during the ongoing unrest. The opposition leaders also demanded the appointment of a retired judge of Supreme Court to probe and fix responsibility for the use of pellet guns, a non-lethal crowd control weapon which has blinded several hundred civilians during the latest unrest. 'People are being harassed inside their houses, it should end if they really want peace in the state also the losses inflicted on horticulture should be stopped,' Abdullah said. The leaders also asked the state government to reconsider the exam schedule and appealed that it should be delayed. 'It is important for peace to be established that political process should be initiated. Without that peace is not possible,' he said. 'This can be suppressed today, but this spark will not extinguish, it will consume us again and it can be a reason for our destruction,' Abdullah said.