Srinagar: As the crisis that rocked the
Kashmir valley shows signs of easing, Chief Minister Omar
Abdullah Wednesday advocated a dialogue between the Centre and
"everybody" in the state "who is willing to talk".
Apparently favouring a dialogue with the Hurriyat as
well as separatists of all hues, Abdullah said in an
interview here, "I think the Centre should talk to everybody
who is willing to talk and should also reach out to those who
are unwilling to talk."
Citing the example of the Centre`s dialogue with the
Hizbul Mujahideen ten years ago, he said, "I think an example
can be taken of the dialogue in 2000 where as a result of a
ceasefire, dialogue was initiated with Hizbul Mujahideen.
"Now obviously it will take, (a) a lot of ground work
for that and, (b) some sort of ceasefire for the dialogue to
go ahead. But I think that needs to be done."
The Centre, he said, should try "some Track II
diplomacy like the efforts made in 2000 that led to a
ceasefire and dialogue."
During the hour-long interview he answered a wide
range of questions including his handling of the crisis,
the controversial decision to call out the army and his plans
to address the problems of the youth who have been in the
forefront of the agitation in which 15 people have died.
Hitting out at his critics, Abdullah said "the moment
one faces difficulties, vultures come out and start
circulating" and "no sooner did we hit a period of difficulty
couple of weeks ago that influential columnists and writers
and other so-called experts on Kashmir started to write the
obituary of my government".
In this context, he welcomed the stand of of his
coalition partner Congress party that it was against any
change in the state`s leadership. "Obviously any signal that
goes out clearly does help.....an early end to that debate was
Asked if he had any regrets about the way he had
handled the crisis, Abdullah replied, "No, when I look at the
actual crisis, well, I regret that the crisis emerged." But
once the crisis started there is not much he would have
It was easy "in our situation to be apologetic about
everything" but considering the mood in the valley last week
his government deserved credit for giving time to heal and for
the anger to settle as well as for the Shab-e-Mehraj prayers
to be held as before, he said.
Referring to the resolution passed by an all-party
meeting on Monday calling for strengthening of the peace
process through internal and external dialogue, Abdullah
explained that the feeling was Jammu and Kashmir has "the most
healthy gain" from a dialogue between India and Pakistan.
"What they want is that the governments of India and
Pakistan should talk to each other and talk about the issue of
Jammu and Kashmir as well with a view to finding some kind of
long-term solutions to our problems.
"Internally there is this sense that if political
dialogue is necessary with all shades of opinion, both
mainstream and otherwise, and that was reflected in the
With regard to the internal dialogue, Abdullah was
asked about the conditions such as the withdrawal of the army,
release of political prisoners and repeal of laws like the
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) put by the moderate
faction of the Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.
His view was that any effort to make the dialogue
conditional did not not help. "I think it is unfair that you
expect the Government of India to engage in an unconditional
dialogue while setting conditions yourself."
Unsparing in his criticism of the opposition PDP for
boycotting the all-party meeting despite a plea by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, the Chief Minister said it had done
so for "short term political gain at long term cost".
In a democracy the opposition can either be
constructive or destructive and "unfortunately here, and I
regret to say, that PDP chose to play the role other than of
being constructive", he said.
Abdullah said that he was not not aware of any
perception that a section of the Congress party wanted him to
be dumped in favour of a coalition with PDP. "I have seen no
no signs of it either at the Central level or at the state
"Obviously all of us were concerned about the
situation in the state. But I have received complete backing
not not only of the Central government but also of the
constituents of this alliance government."
About last week`s decision to deploy army to assist
the civil administration, Abdullah said it was a security-
related decision. The decision to formally send the army back
to barracks should also be left to the government.
Answering a question about nearly six lakh unemployed
youth in the state, which is often cited as one of the reasons
for the unrest, the Chief Minister said the state did not not
have the resources to handle the problem and would take the
The Chief Minister said that there were some proposals
to address the problem of unemployment on which his government
was working on. "Once we have a comprehensive outline we will
take that to the Centre."
Asked what kind of inquiry his government would order
into the killings of civilians in recent disturbances as
recommended by the all-party meeting, he replied that the
recommendations would be implemented "once we have assessed
Would there be an inquiry by a judicial commission?
"I am not going to go beyond this other than that
we are looking into the recommendation."
With regard to another recommendation of the meeting
that an all-party delegation would call on the Prime Minister
and apprise him of the state`s problems, Abdullah said that
"the nuts and bolts of this would have to be worked out".
In his view it would be appropriate that the
delegation be headed by a senior party leader, possibly
President of the National Conference or the state Congress
chief. If he himself headed it, it could become a government
Responding to a question about his reported comment
that he was a "lousy politician", the Chief Minister said,
"that is not what I said. The very fact that I could win
three parliamentary elections and take my party home
victorious in 2009 elections was in itself a testimony.
"What I said was that I was unable to indulge in a
sort of propaganda like what politicians traditionally indulge
in where they do one work and claim credit for two dozen. In
my case I might do 20 but am unable to sell even one."
Did he seek advice from his father Farooq Abdullah,
who is also the National Conference President and a Union
"Yes I do. In fact, family is the only people who
give you objective advice. Almost everybody else`s (advice)
is subjective. My father has been the Chief Minister for a
long period of time. He knows the pressures of this
job....and therefore his advice is invaluable for me.