Srinagar: National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Saturday expressed his displeasure over the deadlock in talks between India and Pakistan, saying the two nations should not close the doors on dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue as its absence was destructive for Kashmir.
Slamming the war of words between the two countries, he asked India and Pakistan to desist from making statements which were "bound to widen the gap".
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister suggested more people-to-people contact and ease visa rule for easy movement of people from either side of the Line of Control (LoC) to bridge the gap.
He asked India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to "think alike and act in unison" to fight terrorism, without considering that one is a big nation and the other is small.
"No dialogue (between India and Pakistan) is a cause of destruction for us (Kashmir). India and Pakistan have to talk and solve the issue. The problem has to be resolved and they should not close the doors on dialogue," he said, after an interaction with a civil society delegation from cross-LoC at his Gupkar residence here.
A 50-member delegation, including 11 from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan, was in Srinagar for a three-day cross-LoC conference in which all stakeholders were urged to restart the processes towards resolving the Kashmir issue.
Abdullah said, "small pebbles" can be removed by dialogue between the two countries at various levels and then both the Prime Ministers can talk to resolve the issues.
"This is not something impossible. If both of them feel that the nations are getting destroyed due to the issue, then they should not stop the dialogue," he said, and suggested back channel talks to reach a consensus to address outstanding issues.
Terming as "wrong" the war of words between the two countries, he said, we should desist from such statements which are bound to widen the gap, instead of bridging it.
"This (statements of intolerance) is wrong. I feel that our people should desist from such statements and when we will desist, I am sure that such statements will also cease to come from that nation (Pakistan), which otherwise widens the gap. If we have to bridge the gap, then we should desist from such statements," Abdullah said.
He advocated for more people-to-people contact, easy movement from either side of the LoC and work for giving impetus to activities related to tourism and trade between the two divided parts of Kashmir.
"The biggest thing that should happen is people-to-people movement in both the parts should be made easy. The gap cannot be bridged by a visa which has a problem that we have to first find 10 people and then only can we go there."
"If we really have to bridge the gap and unite people, then we have to do away with this visa rule and allow people to visit both the regions easily. Trade and tourism should also be made easy and there should not be limitations on the items to be traded," he said.
On the issue of fight against terrorism, he said, if we have to save ourselves from the wrath of terrorism, both the nations (India and Pakistan) as well as Afghanistan (which) is also our neighbour, all three should talk and jointly address the issue.
"There should not be a notion that I am a bigger nation and the other is smaller. If we really have to fight this (terrorism), then India, Pakistan and Afghanistan should think alike and act in unison," Abdullah said.
The delegation also favoured the dialogue process between the two countries should continue.
"We were here for a cross-LoC dialogue to try to end the tension between India and Pakistan. We want the dialogue process between the two countries to continue and not stop. We also want that the people from both parts of Kashmir should be involved in the peace process and know what was happening in this regard," Mohammad Arif Urfi, a resident of Muzafarabad and a member of the delegation, told PTI.
He said there should be more people-to-people contact between the two parts of Kashmir.
"I had to migrate from here when I was just one-and-a-half year old. My family lived in Islamabad (Anantnag). I wanted to go there, but we were not allowed. We were allowed to travel to Srinagar only. I want that people should be able to move freely," said Urfi, a television journalist who is working for peace in the sub-continent.