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Sonia sowed seeds of Kashmir dialogue in 2002

The much anticipated dialogue process on Kashmir with " all shades of opinion" owes its origin to the idea spelled out by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in September 2002 and the successive governments at the Centre, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2009 17:30 IST
Arun Joshi

The much anticipated dialogue process on Kashmir with " all shades of opinion" owes its origin to the idea spelled out by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in September 2002 and the successive governments at the Centre.

In between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Mumbai and other leaders have so many times invited one and all for dialogue with all those who abjure violence , but the outline was drawn by Congress president, that too on the soil of Kashmir more than seven years ago.

Sonia Gandhi in her speech at Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium on September 19, 2002, while campaigning for her party in the J&K Assembly elections , had declared that she had come to send a message to the people. There was a need to solve the Kashmir problem by " talking" and she had promised that a Congress Government would try to " involve all groups."

" Write your own future", she had said " by casting vote for us".

At that time Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) had ratcheted up its call for " solution through talks, not through bullets.".

Now , when the mood of talks is talk of the political, social and economic circles in Jammu and Kashmir , a look back at the dialogue process revealed that it was Congress president who had lent her signatures to the dialogue process way back in 2002, when the Indian and Pakistani armies were in an eyeball to eyeball position and militancy was at its peak, and so were the counter-insurgency measures.

She spoke of dialogue , when Kashmir streets were splattered with blood.

Post 2002 Assembly elections- PDP and Congress had formed a coalition government , and the pitch for dialogue was further raised and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan from the same satadium on April 18, 2003 , transformed the mood from confrontation to conciliation .

Congress had fully supported the initiative of talks and peace with and its persistent call for the internal talks led to four rounds of dialogue -January 22, March 18, 2004, September 5, 2005 and May 3, 2006 with All Parties Hurriyat Conference (M), and with Peoples Conference on January 18 and JKLF February 18, 2006.

And now when Congress and National Conference are ruling the state, the theme of dialogue has again cropped up prominently.