Terming the all-party initiative as a good beginning, the ruling National Conference today said it has suggested restoration of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir as the best solution to resolve the long-pending issue.
"We have proposed autonomy (restoration of autonomy) as the solution to the Kashmir issue. It is nothing new as it is contained in the instrument of accession," senior NC leader Abdul Rahim Rather told reporters after meeting the all-party delegation headed by P Chidambaram.
He said the NC made it clear to the delegation that under the instrument of accession, the division between the Centre and the State were clearly demarcated with all the powers of the legislation resting with the state other than those concerning defence, external affairs and communication.
Rather said over the years the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir was "eroded unconstitutionally" which the NC believes was the reason for the Kashmir discontent.
It began with the arrest of NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdulalh in 1952. In a reference to BJP's demand for abrogation of article 370, he said, "Those making this demand are living in a fool's paradise."
"Only constituent Assembly of JK, which submitted its report in 1956, could have done that," he said.
Rather said that the NC reminded the delegation about the promises made to the people of JK with regard to restoration of autonomy. "We won the elections in 1996 in all three regions of the state on the autonomy plank. A resolution was passed by the Assembly in July 2000 but it was rejected by the then NDA government without reading it.
"If there is any other solution which is acceptable to people of JK, we will support it," Rather said underlining the need for sustaining a dialogue both on internal and external fronts to find a political solution to the Kashmir issue. He said that the party also reiterated its demand to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Act (APSPA) from the Valley.