Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday said the United States should help in facilitating a dialogue between India and Pakistan but there was no need for mediation.
Talking to journalists here on the eve of the opening of the durbar in Jammu, he said the U.S., as a friend, had time and again come forward and facilitated a dialogue. He cited the former President, Bill Clinton's intervention during the Kargil war. But “we are extremely sensitive to anything that appears even close to mediation and that obviously is not acceptable,” he said to a question about U.S. intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue. “We don't need any sort of overt mediation by U.S. in solving the Kashmir conflict.”
Also, U.S. should not see Kashmir through the Af-Pak prism. “I know it is difficult because they have troops serving in Afghanistan, but we have our own considerations,” the Chief Minister said. Jammu and Kashmir had been the biggest victim of terrorism during the last 20 years and clearly there was a commonality of interest between India and the U.S. in seeing the reduction and ultimately elimination of terrorism, he said.
The Chief Minister reiterated his stand on J & K's relations with the Centre and said he stood by his October 6 Assembly statement that the State had not merged with and only acceded to the Indian Union.
“Legislature is the most appropriate forum for that comment. I need not to give any clarification now. If there is a need, it would be done in only in the Assembly. I believe in what I said and I have no regrets.”
Referring to a rehabilitation policy for youth who are in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and want to return, he said it would be “cleared soon” by the Cabinet and would become part of the government policy.
‘Hartal fatigue' in Kashmir
On people's indifference to the strike calls given by hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani, Mr. Abdullah said it was a growing “sign of hartal fatigue” as they were fed up with this kind of politics. But as long as Mr. Geelani kept announcing protest calendars, “the danger of something untoward happening will remain. So police and CRPF have to be deployed to ensure that we are not held responsible for anything that went wrong.”
Strike in Jammu
Meanwhile, normal life was affected in Jammu on Monday, when the Bharatiya Janata Party called a strike to protest the Chief Minister's statement on accession.