Kashmiris for finding solution within India: Abdullah


New Delhi : Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and union minister Farooq Abdullah Thursday made a forceful plea for autonomy as a solution to the problems besetting the troubled state, and added that it is time to tell Pakistan to return to India the parts of Kashmir under its control.

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Participating in a special debate in the Lok Sabha on the unrest in the Kashmir Valley,

Abdullah also said that most Kashmiris were in favour of a solution within India, and not in Pakistan.

Abdullah, who heads the state’s ruling National Conference party, said: “Kashmir has not acceded to India by force… It chose to become a part of India belonging to Gandhi and Nehru.”

Most Kashmiris”, he said, “want to find a solution to the problems within India. We want to find a solution to the problem within India, not in Pakistan, China or in America”.

He said autonomy was the only solution to the issue and said those in Kashmir demanding independence had not realised the consequences of it.

“Kashmir too faces a threat from Taliban elements and a situation similar to Afghanistan and Pakistan will arise in the state too (if independence is granted). We have three nuclear powers surrounding us. Can we be safe in that surrounding if Kashmir is to be given ‘azadi’,” Abdullah said.

The union minister said he was surprised none of the MPs in the debate spoke about the parts of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistani and Chinese control.

“Today, I am surprised that nobody has talked about Kashmir under Pakistan occupation which they call Azad Kashmir, nobody talked about Northern Areas of Gilgit Baltistan and Skardu, nobody talked about the territory Pakistan gave away to China,” Abdullah said.

He asserted that it was the time to tell Pakistan “in one voice that it should return to us the part of Kashmir it has occupied and given away to China”.

The former chief minister said if Kashmir has to remain an integral part of India “you will have to open your hearts to us”.

“But today, I regret that when we open our hearts to you, you don’t even recognise us…Every corner of our heart has India written over it. When we brought the autonomy resolution, I thought we will join hearts. But you let me down,” he said, referring to the National Conference’s autonomy resolution of 2000 which was trashed by the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government.

“(Then prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee told me he had not even read the autonomy resolution. I pleaded before him to read it as it is all well within the ambit of the constitution,” Abdullah said.

“You have to win the hearts of Kashmiris…People who have laid down their lives don’t want jobs or money. They want justice,” he told the house, with folded hands.

He said the role of the media in the Kashmir Valley was disappointing and the newspapers published from Srinagar were adding fuel to the fire.

Abdullah looked upwards at the press gallery in the house and again folded his hands, pleading to the journalists sitting there to be objective and report facts from the Kashmir Valley.

The renewed unrest in the Kashmir Valley since June 11 has seen 64 people killed, mostly in firing by security forces, during clashes.

His party colleague Mirza Mehboob Beg said no power can permanently integrate Jammu and Kashmir with India till the politicians in Delhi accept that the Kashmir issue is political in nature.