New Delhi: Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah sparked a controversy on Friday as he said that India should approach to third parties, such as the United States and China, to mediate in the Kashmir issue.
Advocating bilateral dialogue in the face of rising tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan, Abdullah said that violence and warfare were not the solution to the Kashmir dispute which has plagued both nations for nearly 70 years.
“For how long are you going to wait? Sometimes, you have to catch the bull by the horns. War means annihilation, as they (Pakistan) have atomic bombs, just like we do. The way (to resolve the issue) is through dialogue,” Abdullah said.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister added that India has many allies across the globe, who can be approached to act as intermediators to help settle the Kashmir issue.
“Use your allies to initiate a dialogue and find a lasting solution. US President Donald Trump has said he wants to settle the Kashmir problem, we didn’t ask them to. China also said that it wants to mediate in Kashmir. Somebody has to be approached,” Abdullah said.
Quoting former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s remark – “Friends can be changed, but not neighbours” – the NC leader said that arrogance and stubbornness would not let any of the nations progress and develop.
Abdullah’s statement has not gone down well with the ruling BJP-PDP government in J&K.
“Condemn his statement. When he was chief minister, he’d talked of attacking Pakistan. Why this two-faced approach?” said J&K deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh.
Congress, which plays the role of Opposition in the J&K Legislative Assembly along with the NC, distanced itself from Abdullah’s remarks, with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi refuting outright the possibility of third-party intervention in the Kashmir conundrum.
“The point that is being mentioned that a third party’s intervention should be invited for the settlement of the issue, it’s wrong. India is Kashmir and Kashmir is India. It’s our internal matter and no other country should have any say in it,” Rahul said.
Leaping into the fray, NC leader Omar Abdullah defended his father’s statement.
“My father isn’t a Congress party member and doesn’t need it’s permission or approval before he voices his opinion. It’s called free speech,” Omar said in a tweet, reacting to Rahul Gandhi’s firm dismissal of third-party involvement in Kashmir.