Farooq bats for sustained Indo-Pak dialogue

Jammu: Seeking sustained dialogue between India and Pakistan, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah today said the state would be the biggest beneficiary of peace in the neighbourhood even as he batted for free movement across borders in the subcontinent along the lines of the European Union.

Hostility between the two countries has impacted peace and tranquility in the J-K, he said, adding that he hopes the sub- continent’s nations would eschew “myopic tendencies” and work to ensure that people led a peaceful and dignified life.

He also said a situation needs to be created like in the European Union wherein people can move around freely across the various countries.

“If EU could do it, why not India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries,” he said at a conference organised by the Bangladesh-Bharat-Pakistan Peace Forum on the importance of initiatives for fostering peace and unity among the three nations.

“How long shall the hostilities of the past cast a dark shadow on the present and future in a fast-changing global scenario,” he said.

People in the continent, too, have a right to live in a “free and fearless environment”, the National Conference leader said, adding the era of mistrust and suspicion has retarded the growth of the countries in the subcontinent.

“This disgusting situation needs to end,” he said while accusing the western powers of “promoting the terror scourge”.

India and Pakistan must engage “seriously and purposefully’ to take the peace initiative forward as neither country can wish the other away, he said.

Noting that confrontation has no place in bilateral ties, Abdullah hoped the two countries will take concrete steps to continue their interaction.

The former J-K chief minister also underscored his unflinching commitment to secularism and said that is the cornerstone of his party’s policies.

He said “unity in diversity” has been the “biggest strength” of J-K and cautioned against those who wanted to end this time-tested ethos. National Conference would stand like a rock against those who “even think of polluting the composite culture of J-K”, he added.

Abdullah lauded the people for keeping the flame of secularism alive “during the most testing times” and said this was the only ideal that can lead the state to peace, progress and development.

He also called for channelising the energies of the youth towards positive pursuits.

“This can be achieved only when the young people are provided vistas of opportunities to excel in academics and pursue their avocations in a peaceful atmosphere,” he said.