Addressing a media event in New Delhi on Friday, the former CM urged both the countries to engage in conflict resolution through talks, not war.
“Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and should acknowledge the fact that a nuclear war is out of question and hence, engagement and innovative conflict resolution is the only option,” said the National Conference (NC) president.
“Those advocating violence and war are living in a fool’s paradise and their rhetoric is aimed at their own local constituencies. There is no other alternative but to talk and take into account the practical limitations of both sides,” Abdullah added.
The former CM said that ex-Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had offered Pakistan to keep Azad Kashmir during his visit to Lahore.
“When Vajpayee went to Lahore, he proposed to Pakistan that they can keep Kashmir on their side (Azad Kashmir) side of Line of Control and India would keep the territory on its side of Line of Control. But, that proposal could not be implemented,” Abdullah said, imploring the US to play the role of mediator between India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute.
“Before going to Lahore, Vajpayee sought my advice. I did not go to Pakistan because I am a red herring for them,” he said.
The former chief minister also claimed that there was a “growing sense of alienation” among the people, especially the youth. “Those claiming things have improved in Kashmir after the mayhem, bloodshed and misery of 2016, are contradicting the ground reality in an effort to escape their own culpability and responsibility.”
“The fact remains that our youth today are more isolated and alienated than ever before, and feel hopeless and dismayed,” he said at a public meeting in Khan Sahib assembly constituency’s Hardpanzoo area in Budgam district.
The NC president said that the youth were “disillusioned and disenchanted” by the system as several initiatives were left mid-way.
“The lack of political will to engage with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir with a sense of seriousness and honesty has created an enormous trust deficit. This has been further increased by recent betrayals and U-turns,” he said.
Abdullah said that the conflict has inflicted enormous human, economic and political costs on the people of Kashmir, and they deserve a resolution now. “We cannot sacrifice the dreams and aspirations of another generation in Kashmir. The time has come for India and Pakistan to understand that they owe it to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to resolve this issue once for all,” he said.