A day after the BJP lashed out at Dileep Padgaonkar, the head of the three-member interlocutors’ team on Kashmir, for saying Pakistan should be involved in a resolution to the Kashmir issue, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah lent support to his view.
“Pakistan has a role in Jammu and Kashmir. How can you ignore it?’’ Abdullah asked HT on Monday.
“Nothing that the interlocutors have said with regard to Pakistan’s role in J&K is wrong. Right from 1972, Kashmir has been part of bilateral talks. After the Shimla Agreement, whenever talks were held with Pakistan, Kashmir has figured in them,” he said.
Reacting to the BJP’s criticism of Padgaonkar’s statement, Abdullah said, “Vajpayee went to Lahore (when he was Prime Minister) and spoke about resolution of Kashmir.”
This is not the first time Abdullah has called for Pakistan’s involvement in talks on Kashmir. He had said in the assembly this month that Kashmir was a “dispute between two neighbouring countries”.
He had also said Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India, not merged with the Indian Union.
Political scientist Gul Wani, who teaches at Kashmir University, pointed out that the National Conference had during Sheikh Abdullah’s plebiscite movement from 1955 to 1975 demanded that Pakistan be part of the solution in Kashmir.
“In 1964, Sheikh Abdullah was even allowed to go to Pakistan and meet General Ayub Khan. However, back home Nehru died and things stopped there,” Wani said.
In New Delhi, the Congress steered clear of Padgaonkar’s statement.“We neither support nor oppose the statement. This is very premature. Their exercise has just begun and it is not correct to find fault at this stage,” party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said.
The Congress maintained that it has been an old stand of the government of India that Kashmir is an integral part of the country.