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Sartaj saab, you too will die if a nuclear bomb falls: Farooq Abdullah

  1. Robert Dsouza

    Robert Dsouza Moderator

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    What do the cancellation of talks mean for Jammu and Kashmir? Former CM and mentor of NC, Farooq Abdullah tells TOI’s Sagarika Ghose that resumption of talks is urgent to save the lives of innocents in border villages. He also cautioned Pak NSA Sartaj Aziz not to talk of nuclear bombs.

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    Q: The NSA level talks are stalled: an ominous sign?

    A: That the talks are not taking place is a tragedy for J&K. This means firing will continue. The Pakistanis will fire from their strongholds. We will fire from our strongholds. Boys, girls, women children, adults will die. What are we going to achieve by all this? Nothing.The only way forward is talking. We must talk. Is it in the interests of India and Pakistan that innocent villagers are dying in the firing? Does anybody in the rest of the county care when our people die on border? Has Mr Modi come to see them in the border villages? He should immediately visit the border so that people see the suffering in the villages.

    We were all very disappointed when the talks were called off. The people on the border must have been most disappointed. They must have cried like hell. If nothing is done, there will be far more casualties on the two sides. We must open back channels, open every channel that we can.

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    Q: Should the government have allowed the Hurriyat to meet the Pakistani leadership?

    A: They have always met. Whether they meet or don’t meet does not solve the Kashmir problem. Why make the Hurriyat so big? The Indian government should ignore the Hurriyat. The Hurriyat is a creation of Pakistan and Pakistan has always spoken to them. They went to the High Commissioner’s Pakistan Day event. Our minister, VK Singh also went. We didn’t stop them at that time. Why now? The Hurriyat should be ignored. They do not represent the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

    Q: Has this episode embarrassed J&K CM Mufti Sayeed? After all he is the BJP’s partner in J&K

    A: Mufti doesn’t care less. He’s sitting on the chair. He criticised BJP right left and centre. Then when it came to the chair he embraced them, forgot all those things he told the Kashmiris.

    Q: Can talks take place given terror attacks in Gurdaspur, Udhampur?

    A: Terror is the main issue in both India and Pakistan. In their country also mosques have been attacked, schools have been attacked, the army is fighting terrorists in tribal areas. That’s why India wants to talk about terrorism, that should be our first and foremost object. Once terror has been talked about, all other issues can be discussed. The only way out is talking. We should keep a window open. There’s a SAARC meeting coming up, a UN meeting, am sure we will find a method of talking.

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    Q: Is Modi’s policy towards Pakistan too hardline?

    A: What’s hardline? Telling Pakistan where he draws the red line? Why is that a hard line? Did he not open his doors when he was sworn in? Did he not invite the Saarc heads to Delhi to signal he wants friendly relations? Modi can’t be taken for a ride by anybody. He’ll do exactly what he wants to do. He tried to speak to them. You want him to go down on his knees? There’s never been trust between India and Pakistan. There was a ray of hope when Gen Musharraf was in command, a feeling that something new will emerge, that there would be a solution out of the box. When the next general takes over, we might find a way forward.

    Q: Only Pakistani army generals can make peace with India?

    A: Since they are the government, it’s better that a general sits on the chair and talks to the Indian PM, you will solve things quicker that way. This way the Pakistani PM has to check with the army and that takes time. Command, after all, lies with the army.

    Q: How do you react to Sartaj Aziz’s statement that India should not take Pakistan for granted because Pakistan has the nuclear bomb?

    A: When a senior diplomat, a former foreign minister talks about nuclear weapons, its absolutely crazy. May I please remind Sartaj Aziz about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How many 1000s and 1000s died, not a single inch of grass is growing there. Is that what Sartaj Aziz wants now? Does he want to bomb J&K? India also has a bomb. When I went to Pokharan when the tests were conducted, I remember Vajpayee’s words: He said we are not the ones to use this first, we have this as a deterrence, only to tell people don’t take us for granted, we can defend ourselves. I want to tell Sartaj Aziz, don’t think of the bomb, because innocents will die. Sartaj Aziz saab, you too will die if the bomb falls. Please avoid such talk.

    Q: ISIS flags have been seen in Kashmir, is extremism growing?

    A: A flag doesn’t matter, it’s only a show of their anger. Last year we had a flood, and those people are still suffering. Modi saab has given 1 lakh crore to Bihar because of elections what about these poor people? There is total neglect of J&K by the Modi government. Hatred is growing among the young because of the failure of the government.