Farooq Abdullah Calls Meeting of Opposition Parties in Kashmir

Farooq Abdullah Calls Meeting of Opposition Parties in Kashmir
File-PTI Photo by Vijay Verma
Farooq Abdullah Calls Meeting of Opposition Parties in Kashmir

Opposition parties led by National Conference today said India and Pakistan should hold talks for the resolution of Kashmir issue and the Centre should initiate a political process on the issue, stressing that war is not the solution.

"We are all concerned about peace in Jammu and Kashmir. India and Pakistan should sit on a table and resolve this issue," NC president Farooq Abdullah told reporters after chairing a meeting of opposition parties' leaders, including Congress and CPI(M).

"Through dialogue, our (Kashmir) issue will also be resolved. War is not a solution," he said.

Recalling Atal Bihari Vajpayee's famous speech in Kashmir in 2002, Abdullah said the then Prime Minister had maintained that friends can be changed but not neighbours.

"If we live in peace with neighbours, we will all prosper. If we take the route of confrontation, their development might be hampered but ours will also be affected," he said.

Terming the prevailing situation in the Valley as "dangerous", he said all parties should work together for peace for which a political process has to be initiated.

"We are unanimous that the current situation is dangerous. The sooner it is resolved the better it is for the state and the South Asian region.

"It is a political issue. The Prime Minister has said it needs to be resolved and it is even in the agenda of the ruling party (PDP) to have a dialogue with all stakeholders, including Hurriyat Conference," Abdullah, who was accompanied by leaders from other opposition parties, said.

He said for the dialogue process to start, all political prisoners and youth arrested during the current unrest should be set free.

The opposition parties also demanded a commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to probe the deaths and loss of eyesight due to use of pellet guns in Kashmir and find who is responsible.

The former Chief Minister said if the government was serious about improving the situation in Kashmir, it should stop the security forces from allegedly indulging in vandalisation of homes and harassment of inmates.

"The government should also reconsider its decision to hold annual school examinations (in November). The schools have been closed for three and half months. The examinations should be delayed...It has been done in the past," he said.

Asked if the demands of opposition parties will embolden the terrorists, Abdullah said, "If we resolve this issue, there will be no terrorism. If the two nations resolve this issue, terrorism will die automatically."

The opposition parties also demanded that a special session of the state Assembly be held for discussing the prevailing situation.

"Let the people put forward their views and suggestions in the House. May be we will find some solution," Abdullah said.

The former chief minister refused to comment on the Uri terror attack, saying, "Today we are concerned about peace and saving the state. We are not forgetting the sacrifices of the soldiers".

Asked if the opposition MLAs should have resigned in view of the Centre not paying heed to their suggestions during their earlier meetings, he said, "That is not a solution. The solution is by fighting, not by resigning."

CPI(M) MLA from Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said by staying in the parliamentary process they can put pressure on the Centre.

"We can put pressure on Government of India when we are somewhere in the parliamentary process and political institutions. We are not here one-time makers of news.

"We are serious citizens of this state and we are concerned about the fate of people of Jammu and Kashmir," Tarigami added.

The meeting of opposition parties came two months after a similar initiative by NC working president Omar Abdullah.

The opposition delegation had called on President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress top brass in August which was followed by the visit of an All Party Delegation to Kashmir in first week of September.

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