Omar defends chopper ride to Pakistani Kashmir leader

September 22nd, 2011 - 11:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Sep 22 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday couched in political context his lending a state helicopter to a former Pakistani Kashmir “premier”, on a private visit, for a trip to Pahalgam resort and rubbished reports that the gesture cost Rs.11 crore.

“Former ‘Azad’ Kashmir premier accepted the hospitality of the elected CM of J&K.; I’m very glad that he did,” Omar wrote on his Twitter page, giving a political context to the whole episode that has generated some controversy in the valley.

With some people wanting to know why he provided the state government chopper to the former “premier” from other side of Kashmir on a private visit, and if the ride to and fro from Pahalgam cost the state Rs.11 crore, Omar responded on Twitter: “For the record the 11 cr figure for the flight to Pahalgam & back is complete rubbish. I doubt it would cost that even in an A380.”

And he followed this comment with another on his Twitter site: “And in case you are interested, the cost of flying is 55,000 an hour. The flying time to and fro is 45 minutes so as they say - do the math.”

The Pakistani Kashmir leader, who came here to attend the marriage of a local businessman’s son, visited Pahalgam Tuesday accompanied by Nasir Aslam Wani, the state junior minister for tourism.

Chaudary told some reporters that during their chance meeting at the wedding venue in Srinagar he had expressed to the chief minister his wish to visit the hill station, and Omar was courteous enough to facilitate the trip.

Reports here said the Pakistani Kashmir leader also visited the mausoleum of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Omar’s grandfather and founder of the regional National Conference, on the bank of the Dal Lake in Srinagar and offered ‘Fateh prayers’ there.

Leaders of Pakistan and also those of Pakistan administered Kashmir have always been highly critical of late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, whom they blame for giving political legitimacy to the accession of the state to India in 1947.

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