India-Pakistan talks needed to resolve Kashmir issue: Farooq

Srinagar: Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah on Sunday favoured talks between India and Pakistan, saying it can resolve the Kashmir issue, which is necessary to improve relations between the two nations.

"Talks between India and Pakistan will resolve Kashmir issue," Abdullah told reporters at the launch of 'Vivanta by Taj' Hotel here.

He said the relations between New Delhi and Islamabad were strained. "Kashmir issue has to be resolved for improving the relations between them."

On the killing of a panchayat candidate in Budgam district on Friday, Abdullah said while the incident was unfortunate, such incidents will not prevent the formation of the grass roots level governance bodies.

"Panchayats will be formed as these bodies are not for resolution of Kashmir issue but for local governance," he said.

Abdullah also expressed hope the situation in Kashmir remains peaceful this summer so that people associated with tourism trade can earn livelihood.

"Tell them (separatists) to stop pelting stones," Abdullah said. "Give them their share and everything will be alright," he added in a lighter vein.

The minister said the gun culture in the state has only harmed its people as the two decades of turmoil has damaged the economy.

"This property should have come up years ago but because of the violence, it was delayed. Artisans, handicraft dealers and others associated with tourism have borne the brunt of the situation," he added.

He appealed to the corporate world to remember their social responsibilities by donating to good causes and helping the poor.

"Remember the political parties also," he quipped.

Taj group today started operations at its first hotel in the Valley, Vivanta by Taj, which sits atop a hillock overlooking the Dal Lake and Asia's largest tulip garden in the heart of Srinagar.

Abdullah lauded the Taj group of hotels for putting up a wonderful property in Srinagar which is going to boost tourism in the state.

"It is remarkable how the group has renovated and repaired the Taj Hotel in Mumbai after the 26/11 attacks. It does not feel that such a tragedy had taken place there," he added.