Golden chance to resolve Kashmir issue lost: Omar Abdullah

February 21st, 2008 - 2:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Jammu, Feb 21 (IANS) National Conference president Omar Abdullah has said a golden opportunity to resolve Kashmir issue has been lost with President Pervez Musharraf apparently losing control over affairs in Pakistan. “India and Pakistan have lost the opportunity,” he said. “We don’t know how long we will have to wait for the next opportunity.”

Omar regretted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not take his suggestion of resolving the issue seriously.

On his return from Pakistan in March 2006, where he had met Musharraf, who was in control of everything in the country then, Omar said he had urged Manmohan Singh to “seize the opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue”.

The former minister of state for external affairs had been to Pakistan to attend a conference on Kashmir organised by Pugwash - an international NGO.

“I had made it a point to meet the prime minister and brief him about the mood in Pakistan and Pakistani establishment, particularly president Musharraf regarding Kashmir,” Omar told IANS, explaining his statement Wednesday at a public meeting that “India has lost a golden opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue”.

“I repeatedly told Dr. Singh that the government of India must act fast and try to resolve the issue within one year,” he said. “I had cautioned that time was running out.”

There was a mood of bonhomie in March 2006 after the October 2005 earthquake in which both India and Pakistan had pledged to open the Line of Control (LoC) for relief to the affected people, he said.

More than 80,000 people had died in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and thousands on the Indian side of the LoC.

It was also the time when President Musharraf had floated the idea of a four-point formula on Kashmir - making borders irrelevant, self-governance to the region, joint management and demilitarisation of the territory.

Omar, the MP from Srinagar, had “sensed a mood of optimism in Pakistan and also seen bright chances of the resolution of the Kashmir crisis” as the Indian prime minister had also declared that India was willing to discuss and resolve all issues with Pakistan, including Kashmir.

With Musharraf apparently weakened by the Feb 18 elections in Pakistan, Omar feared that the resolution of Kashmir would not figure among the priorities of the new regime.

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