Kashmir CM Asks India to Walk Extra Mile to Engage Pak

Srinagar, Sept 10: The Chief Minister of Indian administered Kashmir, Omar Abdullah Saturday urged the Government of India to walk an extra-mile for finding ways and means to remain engaged with Pakistan to address the external dimensions of the issues of the State.

Addressing the 15th meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) Indian capital, Omar said the peculiar security challenges in Kashmir more often than not emanate from across the borders and have implications which go much beyond the territorial boundaries. “It is often said that while one can be choosy about one’s friends, the same principal does not apply to a neighbour”, he said.

He urged the Government of India (GoI) to walk an extra-mile for finding ways and means to remain engaged with Pakistan to address the external dimensions of the issues of the State.

“I have often stated that most, if not all, internal security problems are essentially rooted in politics. As a matter of fact even armed insurgencies are basically struggles for political space. It has been realized over a period of time the world over and within the country itself, that issues involving contrary positions can never be resolved through violent agitations and confrontations. This being the case the most obvious approach would be to seek appropriate political solutions for the political problems. It goes without saying that a timely political solution to a problem would ensure that it does not balloon into a full-fledged law and order or an internal security problem”, Omar maintained.

Referring to interlocutors appointed by Indian government, he said the team of Interlocutors appointed by GoI for the dialogue with all the stakeholders in Kashmir has visited Kashmir time and again and met a large number of stakeholders. “It is expected that the final report of the Interlocutors will provide a roadmap for a solution to some of the pressing problems confronting Kashmir”, he said.

Calling for setting up of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the chief minister said people in Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed unprecedented levels of violence. “A time has come to find an out of box solution to bring an element of closure to this pernicious cycle of untold suffering. To my mind, of the many other options that can be considered in this regard, the setting up of a TRC can be a possible first step towards assuaging the alienation and restoring the confidence of the people in the democratic institutions of the State”, he said.

He urged the delegates at the NIC, where cabinet ministers including Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram were present, to discuss the idea and give it “a fair trial”.

He said that the questions that have emerged due to the surfacing of unmarked graves need to be answered.

Omar said the migration of Kashmiri Hindus has created a big void in the composite communal fabric of the State. “The State Government has been implementing a comprehensive multi-sectoral package as part of the PMRP to facilitate return of Hindus to Kashmir and there by fill up this gap,” he said.

He said the State government has also brought amendments in the electoral laws to ensure that the names of the Kashmiri Pandits, who had to migrate from the Valley due to disturbed conditions, continue to figure on the electoral rolls so that they continue to be stakeholders in the electoral process.

On handling of civil disturbances, Omar said the prolonged civil disturbances in Kashmir in 2010 summer resulted in loss of many innocent lives and loses on economic fronts besides irreparable disruption of the education system. “Dealing with such law and order problems in general and with the stone throwing crowds in particular requires a completely different approach on the part of the police”, he said.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.