Independence not a viable option for Kashmir: Omar Abdullah

September 7th, 2008 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Independence or accession to Pakistan are not viable options to solve the Kashmir dispute, says National Conference chief Omar Abdullah.”I do not believe that independence for Kashmir is a feasible or a viable option and I stand by that,” Abdullah told Karan Thapar in an interview on CNN-IBN TV news channel.

“I believe that you can give Kashmir independence but you cannot give Kashmir freedom under the circumstances that prevail within the subcontinent - India, Pakistan and China,” Abdullah argued.

“Even if India and Pakistan were somehow to decide to give the state independence, it will never be really free,” he stressed.

“Be that as it may, it’s not my job to follow popular mood,” he replied, asked about the recent spate of protests in the Kashmir Valley that saw a section of Muslims shouting pro-freedom slogans.

“It’s my job to tell the people what I believe is in their interest and I sincerely believe that it is not in their interest. It is not a viable alternative to suggest azadi or even accession to Pakistan,” said Abdullah, who is also a National Conference MP.

Underlining that “Kashmir is essentially a political issue”, he said: “It needs political handling. It’s not good enough that you give a 24,000 crores economic reconstruction package or you announce all sorts of confidence building measures.”

“It’s essentially about the political solution that you need to work out there,” he added.

Abdullah said the recent protests in the valley were spontaneous and denied that there was any ISI or any Pakistani involvement in them.

“What happened was a spontaneous eruption, arising out of the fear that the economic blockade brought into people’s minds,” he said.

“Let’s not forget, even in the worst of times, 1990, 1991, 1992, never was there an effort made to cut off Kashmir economically from the rest of the country. This is the first time it happened and it sparked off the reaction that you saw,” he added.

He, however, agreed with the assessment of National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan that the situation was not as bad as 1990. “It’s bad. The difference between now and 1990s is that there are no guns and to that extent yes, the NSA is right when he says it’s not as bad as 1990, because in 1990 people like myself, my party colleagues, we were all fleeing,” he said.

Asked if elections could be held in the present situation so that the new assembly can be constituted by January 2009, Abdullah sounded optimistic. Elections were held in much worse circumstances in the past, he noted.

“Even in 2002. (In) 2002 the ground situation, militancy wise, was much worse in the state than it is now,” he said.

Abdullah also felt that India “flunked” a “single window system” opportunity under then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to resolve the Kashmir issue.

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