Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah Saturday said that both India and Pakistan would have to settle the Kashmir issue according to the aspirations of the people of the state.
While addressing election rallies in Sumbal and Kangan constituencies, Abdullah said he has always demanded that the political destiny of Kashmiri people be made according to their sentiment and aspirations.
Abdullah said no amount of economic packages or development could substitute the need for an acceptable and just resolution of Kashmir’s political issue.
“We can build a thousand concrete bridges and pave thousands of kilometers of new roads but unless we build a political bridge that connects the people of this state to their political aspirations, the ground reality will remain unchanged”, Abdullah added.
Abdullah, who is the working president of the National Conference (NC), also said he was happy that separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani “has decided not to enforce a poll boycott” and leave the discretion of the wisdom of people.
In the recent past, separatist leaders have only issued poll boycott calls and did not go all out to enforce it. But neither Geelani, nor any other separatist leader, has issued a statement on this.
Nevertheless, the chief minister said: “This is a very welcome step by Geelani Sahab and we all need to realize that election boycotts have given the people of J&K nothing but political dis-empowerment and a weakening of our regional character in politics.”
Abdullah said the 2014 assembly elections were crucial and an election boycott this time would have “far-reaching, irreversible and detrimental consequences.”
“(It will affect) not only on Article 370 or our special status, but also our political stature and voice as a people,” he added.
The chief minister also slammed the Congress and PDP over their statements to defend the Article 370.
“Congress was in power at the Center for decades and Mufti Sayeed was their face in J&K. When Article 370 was eroded from 1953 to 1975, it was done by the Congress party at the center and its puppet regimes in Srinagar with Mufti Sahab as a permanent feature of this operation,” he said.
On food scheme
Omar Abdullah also expressed regret that Congress chairperson, Sonia Gandhi blamed the NC for non-implementation of the food security bill in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the NC opposed this bill because it would have deprived around 15 lakh people in the state of subsidised ration and food grains.
“We will not allow any bill or act to hurt the interests and rights of our people – there should be no doubt about that in any political quarter. The interests of the people of J&K are supreme for us,'' he said.