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Azad refutes Musharraf's claim at book release

He was speaking at release of the book Jammu, considered to be an answer to Musharraf's In the Line of Fire, reports Saroj Nagi.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 21:31 IST
Saroj Nagi

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad saw Indian Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Parvez Dewan's book Jammu as an answer to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's In the Line of Fire as it dispels several misgivings and corrects several misrepresentations about wars and other facts relating to the region.

Azad did not elaborate the points Dewan countered in his 614-page book, which was released on Tuesday.

But the CM corrected one false impression most people have - that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is part of Kashmir Valley when, in fact, it comprises large chunks of lands from the Jammu region.

He refuted the propaganda of some separatist leaders that Kashmir was "close" to Pakistan, pointing out that their language, food habits, clothing and even cultural heritage were different.

Azad wondered why Kashmir was being dragged in the controversy between India and Pakistan when they had nothing in common except religion and when most post-1947 wars were fought in Jammu or Ladakh.

"But religion is hardly a binding force. If it was, there would not be so many Muslim countries in the world," he said, adding that there was a greater commonality in food habits, clothing and language between Pakistan and areas of Jammu, Punjab, Haryana or Gujarat.

Despite the political overtones of Azad's speech, the book - the third in Dewan's trilogy of Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu - covers "travel, trekking, culture, history, wildlife, almost everything."

The reader-friendly approach of the 1977 batch IAS officer was evident at press meet when he took a dig at himself, stating that almost all the publications he was associated with in his career as a journalist have folded up.

Azad, too, joined in the levity, adding that he would requisition Dewan's services if he wanted to close down newspapers, which were critical of him.

He praised Dewan as the rare breed of officers who combined honesty with efficiency for, as he said tongue in cheek, in J&K the most corrupt bureaucrat was generally the most efficient while the most honest was the most inefficient.

Azad's conclusion: the latter were honest by compulsion, not conviction.

First Published: Oct 31, 2006 21:31 IST