Omar hopes Kashmir issue figures in Indo-Pak talks

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday expressed hope that the Kashmir issue will figure in the foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan tomorrow.

Updated: Jun 22, 2011, 18:48 PM IST

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister
Omar Abdullah on Wednesday expressed hope that the Kashmir issue will
figure in the foreign secretary-level talks between India and
Pakistan tomorrow.

"I am heartened that India and Pakistan dialogue is
continuing. We hope that Kashmir does find a mention during
the talks as part of comprehensive dialogue and not as
one-off," Omar told reporters here.

He said he does not expect a solution to the Kashmir issue
to come from tomorrow`s meeting but expressed hope that the
engagement with Pakistan will continue.

There were apprehensions that the peace talks could be
derailed in the wake of killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin
Laden and revelations made by LeT operative David Headley
during the trial of the Mumbai attack co-accused Tahawwur
Rana, the chief minister said.

Omar, however, said the day is not far when a solution
will be found to the Kashmir issue.

"If we continue the political dialogue with Pakistan (on
Kashmir), the day is not far that we will be able to resolve
the issue," he said.

Omar said election is not the solution to the Kashmir
issue. "It (Kashmir issue) cannot be resolved through
Panchayat polls and I am the first one to admit that the
Kashmir problem should be addressed politically," the Chief
Minister said.

On the internal initiatives for resolution of the Kashmir
issue, he said the Centre has appointed interlocutors who are
interacting with a cross section of the society. "We are keeping the window of opportunity open for
widening the dialogue.

Barring a key separatist leader, others
have not come forward yet. It is not a permanently open
window. It will close some time," Omar said on the refusal of
separatists to engage with the interlocutors.

The Chief Minister said separatists should engage with the
interlocutors as they did with Kashmir Committee led by Ram

"If they can meet with Jethmalani-led committee, which can
give nothing except hollow words, why can`t they meet the
interlocutors who have no red lines on their recommendations
they make," he asked.

Responding to a question about setting up of Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as promised by him during the
2008 election campaign, Omar said he still believed such a
step would be the biggest Confidence Building Measure (CBM)
between India and Pakistan.

"India and Pakistan will have to agree on setting up the
Commission and I hope they will talk (during the scheduled
meeting tomorrow) about it too," he said.

On the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act
(AFSPA) from the state, the Chief Minister said the government
should be able to move forward on the issue by year-end.

"The two committees formed to look into the areas where
AFSPA could be revoked have not submitted their reports yet,"
Omar said.

In response to another question on the stand of his party
National Conference on restoration of autonomy to the state,
he said he was not authorised to speak on the issue as he was
no longer the NC chief.

"I am here in the capacity of Chief Minister and not
authorised to speak on this issue. Only National Conference
President (Farooq Abdullah) or party spokesman can answer this
question," Omar said.

He, however, said if the party (NC) forwarded a
proposal on the subject to the state government, it will be
considered and forwarded to the Centre.

The Chief Minister said all necessary arrangements have
been put in place to ensure peaceful Amarnath yatra scheduled
to commence on June 29.

"We have made all necessary arrangements to ensure
peaceful pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine," he said.
Omar said there was no specific input about any militant
threat to pilgrims during the annual yatra.

"Nothing has been brought to my notice by any of the
security agencies so far," he said.

He pointed out that representatives of all security
agencies were present in the meetings chaired by Union Home
Minister P Chidambaram yesterday and no such report was given.
However, Omar said the state government is fully prepared
to foil any attempt to disrupt the yatra.