Former Chief Minister and Working President of National Conference, Omar Abdullah on Saturday asked New Delhi to shun its "rigid stance" and initiate a process of political engagement with stakeholders in Kashmir as well as Pakistan.
Asking New Delhi to re-invent the "reconciliatory and humane policy of engagement" as shown by Prime Minister Vajpayee, Omar Abdullah said the Central Government cannot treat the political issue in Kashmir through law and order mechanisms.
Addressing thousands of party workers and supporters at a public meeting at Kupwara, Omar Abdullah called the PDP-BJP Government a "monumental failure" on both political and administrative fronts and said its Ministers were busy holidaying in Australia and Europe while the common man was suffering for lack of electricity and bare minimum rations in Kashmir. He also lashed out at the PDP-BJP Alliance for widening the gap between Jammu and Kashmir and said the alliance had "wreaked havoc" with the State by bringing it to the verge of mayhem and chaos.
"There is absolutely no alternative to political engagement. New Delhi needs to realize that it has to talk to various stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir and also resume the dialogue process with Pakistan if it wants to see normalcy and peace in Kashmir. When we met the Prime Minister and the Home Minister during the course of the current unrest, we asked the Central Government to initiate a process of political engagement with various stakeholders in the State and also resume the dialogue process with Pakistan without any further delay. We asked the Central Government to realize that neighbours cannot afford perpetual hostility and peace was the only sustainable option. Reminding the Government of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's efforts and policy viz-a-viz Kashmir, we asked them to adopt a similar policy of reconciliation and resolution rather than pushing the people of the State into a corner of suffocation and hopelessness".
In the aftermath of comments by National Conference President Dr. Farooq Abdullah about supporting a united Hurriyat Conference in their efforts to take forward the "political movement" in Kashmir, Omar Abdullah said the party stood committed to its own agenda of restoring internal autonomy in the State and there was "no change" in its agenda.
"While National Conference remains committed to its struggle for the restoration of Autonomy, we have always maintained that we will welcome any other solution that is acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as New Delhi and Islamabad. We have our own political ideology and agenda and there is absolutely no change in that. However, we will continue demanding that New Delhi engages with all other stakeholders, including the Hurriyat leadership in a sincere effort to end the turmoil and bloodshed in Kashmir and find a lasting solution to the political issue", the former Chief Minister said.
Asking New Delhi and Islamabad to shun the path of aggression, hostility and animosity, Omar Abdullah said three wars, armed hostility and diplomatic aggression between the two neighbours had cast a shadow of darkness and suffering on the people of Kashmir and had not helped in resolving any issues. He also said distorting and misrepresenting the ground reality of the current unrest would not change the actual reality. "What have all the wars that have been fought between India and Pakistan achieved? What has the armed turmoil achieved apart from graveyards, misery and pain? We have lost an entire generation to a political conflict that remains unresolved. And this political issue will not be resolved militarily or administratively. The Kashmir Issue needs constructive, imaginative and sincere political handling. Distorting and misrepresenting the ground situation in Kashmir at various fora won't change the ground reality – the problem in Kashmir isn't a derivative of terrorism or black-money but that of an unresolved political dispute."
Omar Abdullah said the PDP-BJP Alliance has brought the State to the verge of mayhem and turmoil. "The leaders of the two parties tried very hard to sell the PDP-BJP experiment of opportunism as an out-of-box idea to bring the two regions of the State closer and to help the State in achieving milestones in development. All of that has been debunked within the first couple of years of an alliance that has not only widened the gap between regions but also brought development to a complete, unprecedented standstill."
"Thousands of young men are languishing in various jails while thousands have been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) by Mehbooba Mufti's Government. We have lost nearly a hundred precious lives in the current unrest and hundreds have been partially or completely robbed of their eyesight. While Mehbooba Mufti spent five months accusing the civilians for the unrest and ridiculed the killed for daring to get killed, she now suddenly admits there was excessive use of force. Why was she silent for five months and why did she suddenly realize there was excessive use of force? Was this Mufti Sahab's vision – to rob our future generation of their eyesight? This Government hasn't left a single stone unturned to torment and humiliate that youth of the State".
Lashing out at the Government for ration scarcity and lack of adequate electricity, the former Chief Minister said the Government had gone into a state of paralysis as essential services had been rendered defunct. "On the governance front – the Government has ceased to exist. While its Ministers are holidaying in Australia and Europe, people in Kashmir are struggling to survive a harsh winter in the absence of electricity and rations. While electricity tariffs are being increased, areas of the Valley are plunged into darkness for hours if not days at an end. Our ration depots are without ration and this Government has ironically pioneered the sadistic cause of engineering food-insecurity in the State. We wonder what happened to Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed scheme that we were told would ensure people get adequate ration after the State Government buckled to the Central Government's NFSA move," he said while addressing the gathering.
Senior National Conference functionaries including NC General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, NC State Vice President Chaudhary Mohammad Ramzan, NC Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani, former Minister Mir Saifullah, NC District President Kupwara MLC Qaiser Jamsheed Lone and former MLA Karnah Kafil-ur-Rehman also spoke on the occasion.