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Updated: October 30, 2009 04:10 IST

Manmohan’s message significant, says Omar

Shujaat Bukhari
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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
The Hindu
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s message for Pakistan is significant and that a majority in Pakistan wants a good healthy relationship with India.

The former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, has also said that talks without pre-conditions can help resolve the Kashmir problem.

‘Futility of proxy war’

“I think Pakistan today is reeling under the sort of assault that they wouldn’t have imagined possible a few years ago. I think they have begun to realise the futility of supporting the sort of forces that they were supporting against India and particularly against Jammu and Kashmir over the last two decades and perhaps this is the time when we can engage them and reinforce this point that they have nothing to gain by supporting these forces — because today they are directed towards India, tomorrow they will be directed towards Pakistan,” Mr. Abdullah told a news channel in response to Dr. Singh’s statement about reaching out to Pakistan

“And that’s exactly what’s happened. You can’t ride the tiger without running the risk of being swallowed up by it. Therefore, I think the message the Prime Minister had for Pakistan today was important, was significant and he said everything that needed to be said, which is we are committed to a dialogue with Pakistan; we believe that the majority in Pakistan wants a good healthy relationship with India, but Pakistan also has to see that India has certain concerns that need to be taken on board,” he added.

Various solutions

On various solutions to the Kashmir issue, including autonomy proposal, by the National Conference, Mr. Abdullah said that it would not be fair on his part as Chief Minister to talk about it but “there are a number of prospective road maps that have been placed before the people and definitely the time has come for the Government of India to engage them and see where the boundaries of a possible solution can be worked out.”

Mr. Sayeed, who is also the PDP founder, welcomed Dr. Singh’s announcement. He said: “That alone could help reach a resolution of Kashmir problem. It is essential for all political forces of the country to back the Prime Minister’s initiative for peace.”

“There has to be a national consensus on this vital issue and all parties must support the initiative as everyone had done to endorse Vajpayee’s initiative in 2003,” the Mufti said. The issue was too sensitive to be used for partisan interests.

Calm on borders: Mufti

Mr. Sayeed said the Vajpayee initiative, which led to crucial de-escalation, had come at a time when the armies of the two countries were in a combat position. At present there was total calm on the borders and the Pakistani Army was engaged in an all-out war against terror. This diametric difference in the scenario, he said, should be enough to silence the hawkish critics of the revival of dialogue process.

The Mufti said the Prime Minister’s declaration could prove historic for the future of South Asia if it was followed up with sincerity and a sense of urgency. He said de-linking terror from any dialogue on Kashmir was only logical as it existed as a political problem between the neighbours much before the arrival of violence in its present form.

Referring to the escalation of terrorist activity in Pakistan, the Mufti reiterated his call for reaching out to the democratic forces and civil society of that country in their fight against terror. He said it would create “a lasting and profound impact on our future relations if we are seen as helping forces of stability and sanity at this crucial juncture of Pakistan as the demon of senseless violence has ultimately to be taken on jointly.”

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