Alleging that V K Singh had not only damaged the reputation of the army but also of India, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said the former army chief should be stripped of the title of Colonel of Rajput Regiment for "lying".
"As the chief of our army, he, as a father of a family, has destroyed the family," Abdullah said while making it clear that he or his son and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah or any member of his National Conference had never taken money from army.
Abdullah made it clear that upon return of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from the United States, he will request him for holding an inquiry at the highest level to probe the charges levelled by Gen Singh. "Yes he is lying," Abdullah said when asked in Karan Thapar's ‘Devil's Advocate’ programme broadcast on CNN-IBN whether the former Army Chief was lying.
Abdullah also shared the opinion of former state Governor Lt Gen S K Sinha that the former army chief should have been sacked the day he moved the court. “Yes he should have been sacked," Abdullah said.
He said an impartial inquiry into the charges made by Singh should be held at the earliest. "It is not to be clarified to not only Indians but to the entire world that who are the politicians who took money from the army. Let me make it clear that neither I, nor my son nor any of my members of National Conference have ever taken any money from Army since 1947 as claimed by him (Singh)," he said. "Let him come out with the names. He has tarnished the image of not only the army but also of India. I think he has done more damage then anything else. That is why an inquiry should be held," he said.
Abdullah expressed surprise that money was being paid by the army. "It was very shocking to see that an apolitical organisation is paying to the politicians in Jammu and Kashmir and God knows how many other places they have been doing this," he said.
Ahead of talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Abdullah was asked about the expectations from the talks. "I don't know what they will bring about. But one thing I want to make it clear. We will have to accept and they (Pakistan) will have to accept that this part of Kashmir is part of India and that part of Kashmir is part of Pakistan."
Asked whether it was right to hold talks with Pakistan at a time when terror has struck in Jammu and Kashmir and with elections round the corner, he said the Indian prime minister has kept all those things aside and made it clear that he was going to talk. "In life, if you cannot take a risk, then you cannot take a decision forward," he said and made it clear that had he been in the prime minister's place, he too would have done the same thing.
Abdullah said India should help Pakistan establish democracy in that country. "I think it is not only for Dr Manmohan Singh. It is time for 1.2 billion people must also work for that situation whereby democracy in Pakistan strengthens and that democracy will formally help in ushering a new chapter in Indo-Pak relationship."
About meeting Sharif without any achievement on assurances from Islamabad on terror front, he said, "I think he has taken the first step by talking to him in New York. I think the second step will be, God willing, when he will visit not only Pakistan but his village where he was born, where he was educated. I think that will happen."
An optimistic Abdullah said this may happen after the general elections and that he was confident that Dr Singh would be leading the United Progressive Alliance-3 as there "was no alternative as of now".
On security lapses during the terror attack in Jammu region on Wednesday that left 10 people dead, he said, "I think they are all are looking at it. Already, the Unified Headquarters had had a meeting. And I believe the home minister of the country is also going to visit and talking to the Unified Command. They are going to see where did we slip. So, action should be taken so that no further slips take place," he said.
Abdullah advocated that talks were the only option between the two countries and that they must go ahead with dialogue despite provocations at the border. Asked whether it would be more mature of the two countries to talk than retaliate, the minister for new and renewable energy said, "I agree with you. I fully agree with you. I think what is important that with all the might, we still are resorting to talks." "India is showing that even after all the provocations on our border, we still want to find peaceful method."
On the question of teaching a lesson to Pakistan, he said, "How do you teach them a lesson by sending in the Indian Army, by sending in the Indian Air Force, by sending in the navy -- are you not going to rake up more trouble? They are also a nuclear power, do you want a nuclear bomb here as much, as we might throw a nuclear bomb there?" The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said there is no way other than holding talks. "Can you have a war? Is war going to solve any problem at all between India and Pakistan?" he said.