In a shift of stand, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday favoured triangular talks among India, Pakistan and separatist leadership and also offered to be a facilitator if militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen wanted to come to the negotiating table.
The 39-year-old Chief Minister, however, had a word of caution for moderate Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq asking him to take his other members on board for talks as “otherwise all they will do is [to] jump on to the hard-line bandwagon and threaten the process.”
“I think again [it is] realistic. You are not going to get a situation where New Delhi, Islamabad and the Hurriyat are going to be sitting at the same table — it is not going to happen. Therefore, if you can work a system wherein you engage with Islamabad and you engage with New Delhi, both at the same time, I see no harm in it.”
“We have done it from the mainstream point of view. I have had engagement with the government of Pakistan as well as the government of India, and I don’t think anything harmful has come out of that,” Mr. Abdullah told Karan Thapar in ‘Devil’s Advocate’ programme of CNN-IBN.
Mr. Abdullah also chose to make it clear that his government would not only like to play the “role of facilitator” for Hurriyat Conference only but also for militant groups like Hizbul Mujahideen “as long as they give up the wrong side, the path of violence.” “Yes, I don’t see any problem because we have done that not only in J&K, as I said, but also in the other States,” he said.
The Chief Minister said, “well, if they are willing to, as I said, shift from a path of violence. Then sure I believe it would be possible for the State government to ask the government of India to engage them and if necessary for the State government to engage them as well — let’s understand that they are really not looking for anything from the State government. So our role is of a facilitator.”
To a question about “secret talks” going on between the separatists and the Centre, he said there was no harm in having a dialogue away from the glare of media.