Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, in a recent interview to a Pakistani newspaper, has called for an "irrelevant" Line of Control between India and Pakistan as "the only possible solution to the Kashmir issue".
Abdullah has been quoted by Mehr Tarar in a two-page interview in the Daily Times as saying, "If you were to create a situation wherein the lines while in existence but irrelevant, I think that is the only situation. Wherein if you start from Kashmir and then you widen it, we have this grand vision of a South Asian Free Trade Area which essentially would mirror what you have in the EU. [sic]"
Tarar has quoted Abdullah as saying that the only way forward would be to give up the "territorial give and take policy".
"But I believe that is the only way forward. The moment we get into territorial give-and-take we will get nowhere. We have not so far. The problem of Jammu and Kashmir has plagued our relations since 1947, and it will continue to plague our relations [sic]," he said.According to the interview, Abdullah has said there were opportunities in the four-point formula proposed by former Pakistan president Gen Pervez Musharraf to resolve the Kashmir issue, including de-militarisation and softening of borders. He also lauded Musharraf for having "stepped away from the stated positions".
Tarar quoted Omar saying that if Musharraf had not "got into a scrap" with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2007, there was "every possibility that both countries would have moved forward on the dispute". Musharraf is currently facing treason charges in his country.
"I think what happens is that India and Pakistan relations are hostage to stated positions... Now that is clearly not going to go anywhere. He (General Musharraf) moved it from there; he said, look, leave that aside, we can have, sort of, no-territorial give-and-take. The Line of Control can be irrelevant. You can have de-militarisation on both sides," Abdullah said.
However, he added that India "did not know how far Musharraf could be trusted".
"Here was an Army chief who did not come and meet a visiting Indian prime minister when Prime Minister Vajpayee came with the bus to Lahore, and in turn, we fought a war in Kargil. So, I think, our, sort of, assessment of him, of General Musharraf, was tainted by that," he said.
The interview was much-awaited as it had found reference in the "Twitter controversy" involving union minister Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Puskhar Tharoor, who was found dead in a hotel room in Delhi recently.
In a series of tweets, Pushkar, who had alleged that Tarar was stalking her husband, had hinted that she had made "similar overtures" towards Omar Abdullah. The CM had told HT he was "dismayed" and requested Pushkar not to drag him into the controversy.
Abdullah had also said he had agreed to the interview after a request from Tharoor's office.