Local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held as per schedule in October and the state government will make every effort to reduce the "influence of the gun", Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told an all-party meeting to discuss the situation in the state. During the meeting called by Omar yesterday, leaders of various political parties expressed their support to the Chief Minister in restoring peace in the Valley, sources said.
Omar said his government was looking at conducting local body polls like panchayat and municipal bodies in October and November so that the benefits of governance trickles down to the grass-root levels.
"This way, we will have a vested interest among the people at large to have normalcy," the sources quoted Omar as having said.
Welcoming the move, leaders said this would help in creating another buffer zone.
The chief minister noted that he had taken over the reins of power when relations between India and Pakistan were at the lowest ebb.
"New Delhi and Islamabad were not talking in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. Over a period of time, progress has been made in the ties and I am hopeful that the two countries will talk more and more with each other," he said. He asked all political leaders to make efforts in helping reduce the influence of the gun in the society.
"Violence is no answer. And if we have to reduce the influence of the gun, a political dialogue with all shades of opinion as well as with Islamabad is a must," Omar was quoted as saying by the sources.
Extending support to Omar, leaders of various political parties said that at no point should anyone undermine the position of the chief minister. In a veiled attack on PDP, which kept away from the meeting, State Congress president Saif-ud-din Soz, said, "We may have differences but right now the time was to overcome them."