As thousands of Kashmiris turned up on Tuesday to bid farewell to Subedar Mohd Ashraf Mir, who was killed in the attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad on an Army camp in Sunjuwan area of Jammu, former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said that Kashmiris are fed up of the endless cycle of violence and the only way to attain peace in the state is dialogue.
In an exclusive interview with India Today, the National Conference (NC) MP said that despite repeated failures in attaining peace in the violence-torn state, dialogue is the only way to move forward. “We have had four wars with Pakistan. Is a fifth war another way to move forward?” he asked. “We can’t stop talking; we have to find a way forward. We might be able to find a solution.”
When asked how to stop the cycle of terror and return to peace despite Pakistan sending terrorists to India, Abdullah said, “I think if we all put our heads together we will be able to find a solution. We should hold a conference in Delhi headed by the Prime Minister. It is not a single party that can find a solution; all parties should be called in.”
Abdullah also said that it is not necessary that PM Narendra Modi should himself initiate dialogue. “I never said that the PM should talk. Other methods can be used. Let us use other nations that are close to Pakistan and India. We all are fed up of violence. I pray to god that the violence ends. Enough blood has been shed. Let us start thinking of peace not only in J&K, but whole of country.”
The NC leader is even willing to talk to separatists for peace in Kashmir. “I can talk to anybody as long it brings peace. I am not a warmonger; I want peace.”
But how to win the hearts of Kashmiris with the large presence of Army in their lives? “Start trusting and loving people. We are Indians, not Pakistanis. Kashmiris are as much a part of India as other people,” he said
Abdullah also said that anything the Kashmiris say is considered anti-national and pro-Pakistani. “My ministers and party workers have died, but we are still considered traitors. You cannot push Kashmiris to the wall. You have to move forward to win them back. Abdullah also called for releasing stone-pelters and making them realise their mistake.