This Article is From Dec 26, 2023

Farooq Abdullah's Gaza Analogy Draws Sharp BJP Retort

Criticising the Narendra Modi government for not talking to Pakistan to resolve disputes, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah today said that unless dialogue begins, "we may meet the same fate as Gaza".

Speaking to reporters, the Srinagar MP referred to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's statement on India-Pakistan relations that "we can change our friends but not our neighbours".

"Prime Minister Modi also said that war is not an option now and the matters should be resolved through dialogue. Where is the dialogue? Nawaz Sharif is about to become the Prime Minister (of Pakistan) and they are saying that we are ready to talk (to India), but what is the reason why we are not ready to talk?" Mr Abdullah said.

"If we do not find a solution through dialogue, we will meet the same fate as Gaza and Palestine, which are being bombed by Israel," he said. The Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel and the brutal counterstrike that followed has claimed over 21,000 lives and reduced large parts of Gaza to rubble.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister's remarks come against the backdrop of a series of unwelcome news from the Union Territory over the past one week. During this period, five soldiers were killed in an ambush in Poonch, a retired cop was shot dead inside a Baramulla mosque and three civilians died after they were detained by troops for questioning.

Senior BJP leader Dr Hina Shafi Bhat has criticised the veteran leader's remarks, saying it is regrettable that a senior leader from Jammu and Kashmir is still talking about talks with Pakistan. "Farooq saab should learn now, this regime is not going to bow down before Pakistan. We tried, they have backstabbed us again and again."

Earlier, Mr Abdullah trashed the ruling BJP's claims of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir since its special status was revoked in 2019.

"Shouting normalcy or propagating tourist arrivals as peace will not finish terrorism. They were claiming that terrorism has finished with the abrogation of Article 370 (in 2019) but four years down the line, terrorism is still there and will not finish till we try to understand its root cause," Mr Abdullah said on Sunday.

"I regret the killing (of the officer). Those who are claiming normalcy are silent... they tried to heal the wounds in a superficial manner rather than addressing the root cause. The commoners should understand that we are losing our soldiers, officers and commoners," he said.

The National Conference president said the Centre needs to find "the right perspective" to end bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir. "We are part of India, we were part of India and we will remain part of India and if we have to end terrorism, we have to look for ways rather than claiming normalcy or talking about tourism which is fragile under the shadow of terrorism," he said.

The use of military or police is not going to finish terrorism, he said, adding, "We have to go deeper and address the root cause to finish it off."

"Terrorists attacked and martyred our brave soldiers, and later three locals were tortured to death. This is tragic as we are fighting against terrorism and not against our own people. If we annoy our people, we will never win this war," he had said.

Earlier this year, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had showed willingness to enter into dialogue with New Delhi. He had said there is "nothing against anyone" and that Islamabad is ready to talk to neighbours because "war is no more an option".

In response, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said India wants neighbourly ties with Pakistan, but there should be an atmosphere free from terror and violence for such ties.

"We have seen reports regarding the comments by the Pakistan PM on this issue. India's clear and consistent position is well known that we desire normal relations with all our neighbouring countries including Pakistan. For this environment free of terror and hostility is imperative," he had said.