As the crisis that rocked the Kashmir valley shows signs of easing, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday advocated a dialogue between the Centre and “everybody” in the State who is willing to talk.
Apparently favouring a dialogue with the Hurriyat as well as separatists of all hues, Abdullah told PTI in an interview here, “I think the Centre should talk to everybody who is willing to talk and should also reach out to those who are unwilling to talk.”
Citing the example of the Centre’s dialogue with the Hizbul Mujahideen ten years ago, he said, “I think an example can be taken of the dialogue in 2000 where as a result of a ceasefire, dialogue was initiated with Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Now obviously it will take, (a) a lot of ground work for that and, (b) some sort of ceasefire for the dialogue to go ahead. But I think that needs to be done.”
The Centre, he said, should try “some track II diplomacy like the efforts made in 2000 that led to a ceasefire and dialogue.”
During the hour-long interview he answered a wide-range of questions including his handling of the crisis, the controversial decision to call out the Army and his plans to address the problems of the youth who have been in the forefront of the agitation in which 15 people have died.
Hitting out at his critics, Abdullah said “The moment one faces difficulties, vultures come out and start circulating” and “no sooner did we hit a period of difficulty couple of weeks ago that influential columnists and writers and other so-called experts on Kashmir started to write the obituary of my government.”
In this context, he welcomed the stand of his coalition partner Congress party that it was against any change in the State’s leadership. “Obviously any signal that goes out clearly does help.....an early end to that debate was useful.”
Asked if he had any regrets about the way he had handled the crisis, Abdullah replied, “No, when I look at the actual crisis, well, I regret that the crisis emerged.” But once the crisis started there is not much he would have handled differently.
It was easy “in our situation to be apologetic about everything” but considering the mood in the valley last week his government deserved credit for giving time to heal and for the anger to settle as well as for the Shab-e-Mehraj prayers to be held as before, he said.