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No breakthrough on Kashmir during NDA govt’s four years: Omar Abdullah

Srinagar, Jun 7: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a strong mandate to act and the leverage to take a bold initiative on Kashmir but the four years of NDA rule at the Centre were wasted as no breakthrough has been achieved, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said today.
The National Conference (NC) vice-president was addressing party workers at Baramulla in north Kashmir.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a strong mandate in the Parliament to act. He had the power and the leverage to take a bold initiative on Kashmir as unlike past prime ministers he was not as constrained by compulsions. Unfortunately, four years have been wasted and no breakthrough has been achieved, Abdullah said.
Welcoming the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Centre, he stressed the need for a follow-up initiative after taking ground realities in the valley into account.
While the Ramadhan ceasefire was a welcome move, one needs to wonder what happens after Ramadhan ends? In the absence of a follow-up initiative that takes the ground realities into account we will yet again fail to rise to the occasion in acknowledging the slide in Kashmir and our responsibility to stem it, he said.
Referring to the offer of talks by the Centre to all stakeholders in the state, the NC vice-president said there should be clarity so that forward movement is achieved.
There is ambiguity and confusion over the apparent offer of talks with the Hurriyat Conference. Various Central ministers have portrayed the offer in various different ways. The MoS PMO (Jitendra Singh) has said militancy is in its last stages in Kashmir despite the insurmountable evidence to indicate that we are in an alarming state of renewed militancy.
How can the Central Government expect the Hurriyat to come forward and talk when the Central Government itself can’t speak in one voice on such a crucial issue? There should be clarity so that some forward movement can be achieved, he said.
Abdullah said realising the gravity of the situation, his party participated in an all-party meeting called by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently and expressed unconditional support to all political initiatives that would bring relief to the people.
The prolonged delay by the central and the state governments in taking a political initiative despite repeated red flags and deterioration of the situation in Kashmir is unfortunate and has eroded the dividends of a hard-earned peace and stability that had been achieved in the state, he said.
Abdullah said the situation in Jammu was equally worrisome and batted for talks with Pakistan to end the skirmishes on the border.
We are losing precious lives in cross-LoC and cross-border shelling. When we advocate talks with Pakistan we are labelled as ‘anti-national’ by those people whose lives are not affected by hostility along our borders. If seeking peace and relief for border dwellers is ‘anti-national’, then I am an anti-national,” he said.
Abdullah said Jammu and Kashmir was the worst victim of hostilities between India and Pakistan. We will continue to advocate for talks with Pakistan for the interests of our state and its people, the NC vice-president said.