Dialogue is the only way for India, Pakistan to move forward on Kashmir issue: Omar Abdullah

SRINAGAR: Speaking at “the path forward in Kashmir” event at the University of Berkeley in California in the US last week, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has said that India and Pakistan have squandered a lot of good chances to resolve the Kashmir issue, but there are still opportunities.

A barrel of a gun cannot drive a solution, there is a need for a dialogue process both internally as well as externally, Abdullah emphasized.

“There are clearly two dimensions (to Kashmir issue). It is not simply a matter between New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, nor is it a matter between Islamabad and J-K. A part of the state continues to remain with Pakistan and I belong to the part of the state that is with India, that acceded to India. So when we come to the way forward, both these dimensions of the problem will have to be tackled,” he added.

Abdullah spoke on various topics, including on the current political situation in the country and the run-up to the general elections next year.

“In spite of the fact that we took losses on account of that, there were express instructions by the government of India that Indian planes and helicopters will not cross the LoC, that Indian troops will not cross the LoC. So, imagine even if with the provocation of Kargil we decided to respect the sanctity of the LoC, haven’t we somewhere or the other, decided that perhaps this is the way and let’s move forward,” he said.

Abdullah suggested that one of the ways to move forward is to sit down with Pakistan and “once and for all, address this issue”.

“We can’t do it with the international mediation. I think mediation is a word that particularly people in India have a lot of suspicion about. But facilitation is not something that we have a problem with. Perhaps friends in the right places can facilitate this process between India and Pakistan and address some of the suspicions that we have.

“I believe that we came incredibly close during the time of General Pervez Musharraf first with (former) Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then with (ex-PM) Manmohan Singh, but time ran out for us because it took so long to finally put aside our suspicions of Musharraf as the architect of Kargil War that by the time we realised he was somebody we need to do business with, he wasn’t nearly as powerful as we needed him to be,” he added.

Abdullah later speaking on chances of development on the issue said that “I don’t believe that all opportunities have been lost, but we have squandered a lot of good chances and I hope we don’t do that going ahead”.

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