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Farooq’s shifting stand on Pakistan

At Sunday’s all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah advocated “tit-for-tat” action against Pakistan.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2008 00:16 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

At Sunday’s all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah advocated “tit-for-tat” action against Pakistan. But back home, he says the Centre should not take any step that could “destabilise the already weak government” in Islamabad.

Earlier too, he had ruled out Pakistan’s involvement in the attacks, saying that country, like India, was facing the same problem.

In Jammu on Saturday, he said: “Pakistan is itself faced with the menace of terrorism and is fighting for its survival. How can it be involved in the Mumbai attacks when its foreign minister (Shah Mehmood Qureshi) was on a visit to India to discuss terrorism and other issues? It’s not understandable.”

He went on to say that the “creators of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are themselves helpless now” as terrorism has gone out of their control. “Those who created the tiger can’t ride it now.”

At the all-party meeting the next day, Abdullah changed his tune. But his rhetoric found little support. Only the RLD’s Ajit Singh seemed in agreement with his suggestion to “retaliate”.

Back home on Monday, he warned against any move to destabilise Pakistan. “We should not do anything that would further destabilise Pakistan. It will be a problem for us. An unstable Pakistan is not in the interest of either India or the world.”

Political observers feel that by his “doublespeak”, Abdullah meant to address both his “domestic constituency” and the concerns of Delhi. “J&K is in full poll mode now. We have seen massive voter turnout so far. Farooq can’t afford to antagonise the voters or Delhi at this crucial time,” said a Kashmir observer.