‘Still a lot has to be covered’: Omar Abdullah on Indo-Pak peace overtures
(National Conference vice-president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday welcomed the thawing of ties between India and Pakistan but stated that a lot of ground was still to be covered. He said that the two countries should move beyond secret talks and indulge in open dialogue.
Abdullah said that he won’t go into whether this was because of compulsion or sincerity on anyone’s part.
“Whatever it is, it is good. We have always said that the friendship between these two countries is not only for the betterment of J&K but the whole of South Asia,” he said on the sidelines of a party function in Pulwama district in south Kashmir.
Last month, Indian and Pakistan’s militaries agreed to strictly observe a ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC). Earlier this month Pakistan’s army chief general Qamar Javed Bajwa said it was time for India and Pakistan to “bury the past” and move forward as that would help “unlock” the potential of South and Central Asia.
“It is good that the two countries are now taking friendship instead of threatening each other but still a lot has to be covered,” Abdullah said.
The turn in India-Pakistan relations comes around one-and-a-half years after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was revoked by the central government and the region was split into two Union territories.
Abdullah said they have come to know about secret talks between the two countries. “We have heard that there have been secret talks. We want them to talk to each other openly across the table on all issues. The issues are plenty including J&K and all other issues. We want a solution to all issues through dialogue,” he said.
Earlier this week, the moderate Hurriyat Conference faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also welcomed India and Pakistan’s agreement to adhere to a ceasefire on the Line of Control and stated that the subsequent statements and actions indicated a ‘positive shift’ in the relations between the neighbours.
The Hurriyat said it welcomes the shift towards good neighbourly relations between the two countries, which was the first step in the direction of meaningful dialogue for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict.
On being asked about the Enforcement Directorate’s summons to PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, Abdullah said that they have experienced these things in the past 6-8 years.
“From J&K to Tamil Nadu, Assam to Gujarat, neither Mehbooba Mufti is the first leader (to be summoned by Enforcement Di) nor would she be the last. Unfortunately for the past 6-8 years, we experienced that one has to bear the brunt of these agencies on opposing the central government. Wherever these actions are taking place they will be faced strongly,” he said.
In J&K, he said that it was the work of the UT government to reassure people and bring them into confidence. “But unfortunately here we still are into governor’s rule. The L-G and his officers must bring people here into confidence and assure them about their betterment,” he said.