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January 19, 2001
The Rediff Interview/Dr Farooq Abdullah
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah's radical solution -- settling the J&K problem by
declaring "war" against Pakistan -- may not have many takers in New
Delhi's corridors of power, but his voice is certainly being heard.
Dr Abdullah has been telling
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister Lal
Kishenchand Advani that the time for soft options by the central
government has ended and the powers that be should now take "decisive, appropriate steps" before
matters slip out of hand.
As the chief minister emerged on Thursday morning from the prime minister's 7 Race Course road home, there was a steely determination in his eyes. But unlike most political leaders
who scurry away in their cars with 'busybody' security personnel keeping reporters at bay, Dr Abdullah in his usual
media-friendly gesture took the initiative in sharing some aspects of his
conversation with Vajpayee.
Dr Abdullah has been telling Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani that the time for soft options by the central government has ended and the powers that be should now take "decisive, appropriate steps" before matters slip out of hand.
As the chief minister emerged on Thursday morning from the prime minister's 7 Race Course road home, there was a steely determination in his eyes. But unlike most political leaders who scurry away in their cars with 'busybody' security personnel keeping reporters at bay, Dr Abdullah in his usual media-friendly gesture took the initiative in sharing some aspects of his conversation with Vajpayee.
Soon after,Tara Shankar Sahay caught up with him to 'ferret out' some nuggets of information about the meeting.
How can you justify declaring war on Pakistan because of the Jammu & Kashmir problem?
You must be aware that the militants are spurning each and every constructive overture from the Indian government which seeks a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue. The militants are being guided and controlled by the Pakistan government, let there be no doubt about it.
I as the chief minister of J&K cannot sit idle when nationalist forces, including our security personnel are being mowed down by the militants for which the Pakistan government is responsible. That's why I say that if Pakistan is not interested in a peaceful solution, the government must be prepared to decisively stop the violence by taking the war to the Pakistani side.
What was the crux of your conversation with the prime minister this morning?
Maine unke samne apni riyasat ki stithi rakkhi (I apprised him about the situation prevailing in my state). I told him that although the firing from across the border had decreased, the infiltration was continuing and they (the militants) were making innocent people their grisly target. They are killing security force personnel. They are killing our policemen and they want to wipe out all nationalist forces. It is my duty to apprise the prime minister and the union home minister of what is going on. They have given me a patient, and I think, sympathetic hearing.
According to you, will the prime minister discontinue the cease-fire in J&K which he declared almost a couple of months ago?
Let (the crucial aspects) of the conversation between the prime minister and the chief minister be their own affair. But you can gauge the level of Pakistan-inspired violence by the fact that even this morning, militants have shot three of our security force personnel. That is why I am hopeful that the prime minister is poised to make a vital decision on January 25. Or maybe the next day.
Could you comment on the recent rifle-grenade attack on you?
Oh, they (the militants) think I am their prime target because of my nationalistic stand. I have met Vajpayeeji and Advaniji on my concerns about the safety and security of my people and the state.
What in your opinion should be the desired fallout of the cease-fire?
A cease-fire in my state does not mean that it should exist only at the border. It means that the terrorist forces in Pakistan's control should discontinue their violent designs which is testing the patience of my people and my government. There has to be a limit to patience, otherwise vested forces deliberately distort peaceful overtures as a sign of weakness.
What is you reaction to the latest facet pertaining to granting passports to Hurriyat leaders for their travel plans to Pakistan?
That is not my problem, that lies in the central government's jurisdiction. The J&K government doesn't come into the picture. If the central government thinks it will facilitate a peaceful solution in my state, so be it. Let the government give them the passports.
But do you still hold your premise that giving them passports to travel to Pakistan will be of no use?
Of course, I do. When the Hurriyat leaders regularly get their instructions from the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi, why make such a big drama of visiting Pakistan? I just don't comprehend what these Hurriyat leaders will do in Pakistan which they cannot do by remaining in this country.
You have interacted with other leaders in the Vajpayee government for quite some time now. Surely you must have fathomed what the government intends to do regarding your state.
I cannot tell you what the central government wants but I can tell you what I want. Main aman chahta hoon, meri riyasat aman chahati hai (I want peace and my state wants peace). If peace cannot be brought through a cease-fire, I feel it should be discontinued. That should answer your question.
During the two-month cease-fire, do you think there has been any positive outcome?
A decrease in the firing from across the border, yes, decrease in terrorist and violent activities, absolutely not. The terrorists are becoming increasingly desperate and I am afraid that unless resolutely tackled, they will become absolutely uncontrollable. You can deduce the repercussions for the the safety and security of our country in such a case.
I want to add that I am not totally against the cease-fire. We must tell the whole world that we have done our utmost to commence a dialogue with Pakistan for resolving the Kashmir issue. But the dialogue should be continued only when Pakistan is sincere. And Islamabad's sincerity will be clear only when its government stops terrorism in J&K.
If the Pakistan government can implement a silence on the border, why can't it put a stop to terrorism by its elements. The terrorists are based in Pakistan and are under its control. If they want congenial relations with India, Islamabad can certainly stop the terrorism.
I want to emphasise that I am with the central government on whatever decision it takes regarding the cease-fire.
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