‘So long as Jammu and Kashmir is a Part of India, the National Conference will Always be Relevant’ -September 2008
President, National Conference, Omar Abdullah
What is your assessment of the current situation in the state?

First of all, the illusion of this peace process with Pakistan being irreversible has been shattered. These protests, the mass movement of the people and to some extent the gradual erosion of the ceasefire show that neither the internal nor the external process with Pakistan is irreversible. We need to recognise this and start taking corrective measures as early as we can. I think, for the first time in Kashmir, we aren’t able to blame Pakistan for the mess we are in today. This is purely our own doing. It started in Kashmir because of the Amarnath land protests, those died down after the government’s decision, but then the protests shifted to Jammu. The subsequent economic blockade that was imposed gave rise to anger and more than that the fear. Even in the worst days of militancy, nobody ever blockaded the Kashmir Valley.

Though people were talking about severing the political link, there was always this very strong economic link. This time, however, despite the silence on the severing of the political link, when the economic link was threatened, it made people realise their vulnerability and the ‘Muzzaffarabad Chalo’ slogan became attractive. I don’t know what the government of India has in mind now, but there has been a series of mistakes and misjudgements. For example, in not keeping the moderate faction of Hurriyat engaged in dialogue; in not adequately conveying to the Bharatiya Janata Party and other vested interests the gravity of the consequences of the economic blockade. Besides, for a long time the government of India was too involved in its confidence vote in Parliament to take this seriously enough. It is only now that we are starting to pick up the pieces, with the National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan coming here.

How did your meeting with the National Security Advisor go? What proposals did he bring to the table?

I don’t think that we have reached the point when either side can make proposals. He didn’t come with any, we didn’t go with any. We discussed what our assessment was on why we have reached this stage. We are examining what can be the way forward. We have made some suggestions to him, which we hope to follow up in our meetings in Delhi.
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