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J&K CM seeks dialogue with separatists

By By our Delhi correspondent
March 07, 2009 20:36 IST
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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said that the Kashmir issue was a political problem that could not be resolved by administrative or security measures.

Calling for good relations between India and Pakistan as they directly impact peace in the state, he said his people's primary focus remains on a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem through political means, with participation of all stakeholders.

At the India Today Conclave held in New Delhi on Friday night, he had a word of advice to Pakistan to deal with its internal crisis. "Today, we see sportsmen refusing to visit Pakistan. Tomorrow, businessmen will not go there and if they do not take the right steps, the situation will deteriorate further. If you ride a wild tiger, it will devour you some day," he cautioned.

Queried on Article 370, Abdullah clarified that it was not the Constitutional provision that barred non-subjects from acquiring land in Jammu and Kashmir, but a state law that was applicable in Himachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep also.

He offered to be a facilitator to engage the pro-freedom leaders in a dialogue to find a solution to the Kashmir tangle. "We are not setting boundaries. They can talk and advocate any solution. It is up to the government of India to accept it or not," he stressed.

Pointing out that inconsistency in the dialogue process had hampered progress in the past, he advocated that the dialogue should be carried forward constantly, but without bypassing the state government. "We have nothing to lose if they (separatists) join the mainstream," said the J&K CM.

Speaking on autonomy as a solution to the Kashmir problem, Omar urged the Indian intelligentsia to accept autonomy as the rule, rather than an aberration or a privilege.

"I believe there is a generic case for enhancing the autonomy of the Indian states," he added.

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By our Delhi correspondent