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Thankful Centre accepted mistake of calling off talks with Pakistan: Omar Abdullah

OMER

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said he was “thankful” that the Centre had “accepted its mistake” of calling off talks with Pakistan over invite to Hurriyat by Islamabad last year.

“We have been saying this since the first day, when they (Centre) called off talks with Pakistan over Hurriyat invite, that it was a mistake to call off talks. Thankfully, they (central government) have accepted the mistake now,” Omar told reporters here.

He was reacting to Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh’s statement that government has no objection to Hurriyat talking to Pakistan High Commisioner.

“At that time (of cancellation of talks) also we called this a gross over-reaction and said this should not be used as a pretext to derail talks between New Delhi and Islamabad,” he said.

“When nothing is legally and constitutionally wrong in Hurriyat leaders meeting Pakistani diplomats, why was this used as a ruse to derail the talks earlier? Who is responsible for the adverse implications this had in Kashmir? These questions need to be answered,” Omar said.

Perceptions are very important in places like Kashmir and the continued instability in Indo-Pak ties has harmed the State internally. Because of the uncertainty in Indo-Pak dialogue, there has been a sense of political anxiety and apprehension in Kashmir which has affected the state adversely,” he said.

He said there has been an “increase” in local youth resorting to armed militancy and a stark “decrease” in the state’s tourism inflow which has adversely affected its economy.

He also took a dig at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition government in the state, saying it was “vision-less and directionless”.

“Only two words can be used for this government ? vision-less and directionless. You cannot see this government on the ground as it does not exist there,” Omar said.

Omar said the Centre should clarify why the previous PDP-BJP government detained Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar last year in order to prevent them from travelling to New Delhi to meet the visiting Pakistani delegation.

“The onus also lies on the Government to explain why the previous PDP-BJP Government prevented the meeting between Hurriyat leaders and the Pakistani diplomats in New Delhi when, as clearly stated by Singh, Hurriyat leaders have every right to meet citizens of other countries in India,” Omar said while addressing party workers at a function in Kani Kadal here.

He said Hurriyat leaders should not be prevented from meeting visiting Pakistani delegations and this was not an issue that should result in any confrontation between the two countries.

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