Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday called for a simultaneous dialogue with Pakistan and the political fraternity in the State to find a solution to the problem that has plagued the valley for over two decades now. He announced that an initiative to engage the political forces in the State would be set in motion soon.

He was inaugurating the All India Editors’ conference on Social and Infrastructure Issues organised by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Union Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah criticised New Delhi for not pursuing a solution with commitment and seriousness.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni presided over the two-day function.

Mr. Omar Abdullah, advocating the need for a serious Indo-Pakistan dialogue, said security and political issues had to be dealt with to lay the path for the social and economic development of the State.

He was confident of the dialogue process getting underway, with Islamabad now seeking to address New Delhi’s concerns particularly with relation to the 26/11 attack. But engaging Pakistan alone would not beget peace and harmony in the Valley.

It was imperative to engage the State too on a political platform to put an end to the current turmoil. “It is necessary to engage all political forces, listen to each voice, take all shades of opinion into consideration and then arrive at a consensus on what is good for Jammu and Kashmir.”

Mr. Abdullah said the Centre was all set to roll out a joint dialogue process in the coming months and hoped that the sustained initiative would eventually yield fruit. He sought to emphasise that he would not impose his agenda and merely function as a facilitator in the entire exercise.

The senior Abdullah said Delhi’s failure was initiating talks without actually taking them to their logical conclusion. “If you take a decision what stops you from moving forward?” he asked.

It was not in anyone’s interest to keep matters pending. “We have a problem with Pakistan. We have to solve it. We have to meet them and take the bull by the horns. The only way out is to sit across the board and find a solution.”

“We want to live in peace”

He said India wanted peace with all its neighbours be it Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Bhutan. “We want to live in peace and have to find a solution with Pakistan.” Dr. Abdullah said corruption was one of the prime causes in the way of finding a solution.

It was not just politicians, bureaucrats and security forces, but also journalists who had an axe to grind.

He said the smallest incident was blown out of proportion by certain reporters to project a perception that the State was burning.

“Paid lobbies”

Vested interests and paid lobbies from across the border acted through agents despite the fact that these forces would never succeed in their designs and Kashmir would always remain a part of India.

He also criticised the former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, and the former Defence Minister George Fernandes for ‘lack of seriousness’ in solving the problem in Kashmir.

One of his concerns was the Centre’s failure in countering the high power transmitting centres across the border that drained out the low power towers put up in the State. As a result, people here had to access what was being broadcast or telecast from the “other side.” Ms. Soni promised to set up a number of high power centres to increase the quality of transmission and broadcast coverage.