New Delhi: Pakistan fishes in the troubled waters of Jammu and Kashmir but they are not the creators of violent unrest in the Kashmir Valley, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Saturday.
Speaking at a Kashmir conclave here, the opposition National Conference leader said he was aware that it was popular to blame Pakistan for everything that is happening in the troubled state.
“We know that Pakistan fishes in troubled waters, but we also know that they are not the creators of the sort of agitation that we have seen in 2008, 2010 and 2016,” Abdullah said.
The former union Minister of State for External Affairs was referring to the three deadliest street protests the Kashmir Valley has witnessed in the nearly three-decades of separatist war.
New Delhi has been blaming Islamabad for inciting and sponsporing trouble in Jammu and Kashmir — a charge Pakistan has been denying.
Abdullah said the blame for shrinking space for mainstream polity in Jammu and Kashmir needed to be shared by all, including the central government.
He said ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) inability to deliver on promises like making peace between India and Pakistan and initiating talks between the central government and separatists has cost the mainstream politicians their credibility in the state.
Abdullah said the case in point was the agenda of alliance between the PDP and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“I think what is important is that we as regional political players understand our limitations. The problem arises when in our desire to attract votes in elections, we sell promises far beyond our ability to deliver.
“It is not within the scope of the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir to decide whether India and Pakistan are going to engage with each other. When we fight election on the promise that we will make peace between India and Pakistan you are setting yourself up for defeat.
“Similarly with the best of intentions, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir cannot armtwist the Union of India to engage with the Hurriyat Conference.”
He said the PDP fought the 2014 assembly elections promising they would facilitate a dialogue without a precondition between the central government and the Hurriyat.
But the PDP-BJP has not delivered the promise despite it forming the “cornerstone of the agenda of alliance”.
“When you enter into agreements like the agenda of alliance and find that it is gradually being dismembered and you see the developments as they have taken place over the last six to eight months, then obviously question marks arise against mainstream polity.”
He said the mainstream politicians needed to focus on the things that they could deliver.
“And here in lies my major grievance with (Chief Minister) Mehbooba Mufti. The fact is that set aside the things that she has not been able to do that are not within her control. Focus on the things that you can do,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah said the blame for the shrinking space of mainstream political parties had to be shared by the central government as institutions like the Election Commission were also not in a position to show how much their writ run in the state.
“It is not just mainstream political players that are responsible for what is happening, the Union of India is also responsible. Whether it was the UPA government or the NDA government,” he said.
Abdullah cited an example of the cancellation of the parliamentary election in Anantnag following violent protests in the Kashmir Valley and said it was for the first time that the separatist Hurriyat Conference had been handed over an electoral victory.
“This is the first election in Jammu and Kashmir which the Hurriyat Conference have won, because since 1996 whenever elections were called the Hurriyat Conference had a single point agenda that some how this election should not take place. This is the first time on the back of protests you cancelled an election and handed victory to them.”
He said the cancellation of the south Kashmir election proved the inability of the Indian government and the Election Commission to make their writ run in Jammu and Kashmir.