The only solution to the Kashmir issue is to create a situation where the “lines, while in existence,” between India and Pakistan become “irrelevant”, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said.
In a two-page interview published in the Daily Times on Sunday, he said if former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had not got into a “scrap” with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2007, there was “every possibility” the countries would have moved forward on the dispute.
“…if you were to create a situation wherein the lines while in existence but irrelevant, I think that is the only situation. Wherein if you start from Kashmir and then you widen it, we have this grand vision of a South Asian Free Trade Area which essentially would mirror what you have in the EU,” Omar said. “But I believe that is the only way forward. The moment we get into territorial give-and-take we will get nowhere. We have not so far. The problem of Jammu and Kashmir has plagued our relations since 1947, and it will continue to plague our relations,” he said.
The interview was done by Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar in New Delhi last month. Tarar has been at the centre of a controversy over an alleged affair with Union minister Shashi Tharoor.
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Omar said there were opportunities in the four-point formula proposed by Musharraf to resolve the Kashmir issue, including demilitarisation and softening of borders.
“Because for the first time he (Musharraf) stepped away from stated positions. I think what happens is that India and Pakistan relations are hostage to stated positions…The stated position is that both sides have to vacate the occupied part,” he said.
“Now that is clearly not going to go anywhere. He (Musharraf) moved it from there; he said, look, leave that aside, we can have, sort of, no territorial give-and-take. The Line of Control can be irrelevant. You can have demilitarisation on both sides. You can have some sort of mechanism…,” Omar said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said on January 4 that the two sides were close to an “important breakthrough” on the Kashmir issue during Musharraf’s regime.
Asked what in his view was the outline for a feasible settlement of the Kashmir issue, Omar said, “Look, stated positions will not get us anywhere, so leave that aside.”