Seeking a political solution to the Kashmir issue, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the time has come for initiating important confidence building measures which included amendment of Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
"The UPA has got a comfortable majority and it is in a position to work out for a political solution to the Kashmir problem. To begin with, we may set up an expert group which may study the AFSPA and find out what were the rules that needed to be amended for removing the draconian nature of the Act," Omar, who finished his series of high-level meetings with central leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, told PTI here.
Asked whether the Centre would be supportive of any such move, the Chief Minister said several committees have recommended amendment in the Act. "I am hopeful that this will be expedited soon."
Expressing satisfaction over his meetings in Delhi, Omar, who is the youngest serving Chief Minister of the country, said "for finding a lasting solution to Jammu and Kashmir, I have found the best of the advocates in UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister."
To a question about his talks with the Prime Minister on beginning the internal dialogue process, he said, "We need to talk to all shades of opinion which included both moderate as well as hard line faction of Hurriyat Conference. As a
Chief Minister as I want to put an end to hartal and bandhs and stone pelting incidents, which are only hampering the tourism industry of the state."
An emotional Omar said, "can't these separatist groups understand that a boatman, a taxi driver or a bus operator needs daily bread and peace rather than these frequent strikes or shut downs."
Asked whether separatists, including the Hurriyat would respond positively to his talks offer, as and when extended, Omar said, "anyone loving the people and this state will like to sit across the table and work out a solution for lasting peace. I want to ensure peace in the state so that developmental schemes move on at a rapid pace."
Referring to People's Conference leader Sajjad Lone's contesting the Baramulla Parliamentary seat in the recent polls, Omar said "though Lone stood third in the results, he at least had the guts to face the electorate."
About speculation that Lone will be nominated to Rajya Sabha seat vacated by National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, who won the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, Omar said he was not aware of any such move. "In any case, every one needs to fight for his political space," he said.