India and Pakistan have squandered a lot of good chances to resolve the Kashmir issue, but there are still opportunities, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said.
He outlined the need for a dialogue process both internally as well as externally to address the issue, saying the solution cannot be driven by the barrel of the gun.
There are clearly two dimensions (to Kashmir issue). It is not simply a matter between New Delhi and J-K, nor is it a matter between Islamabad and J-K. A part of the state continues to remain with Pakistan and I belong to the part of the state that is with India, that acceded to India. So when we come to the way forward, both these dimensions of the problem will have to be tackled, he said.
He was speaking at an event on the path forward in Kashmir at University of Berkeley in California in the US last week.
His speech was followed by a question and answer session where he spoke on varied topics, including on the current political situation in the country and the run-up to the general elections next year.
Abdullah, the working president of the opposition National Conference, wondered if the time had come to ask are we being overly ambitious and overly emotional in talking of getting Pakistan-occupied Kashmir back.
Referring to the Kargil war of 1999 between the two neighbours, he said that even with the greatest of provocations that time, India respected the sanctity of the Line of Control.
In spite of the fact that we took losses on account of that, there were express instructions by the government of India that Indian planes and helicopters will not cross the LoC, that Indian troops will not cross the LoC. So, imagine even if with the provocation of Kargil we decided to respect the sanctity of the LoC, haven't we somewhere or the other, decided that perhaps this is the way and let's move forward, he said.
In this context, he said one of the ways to move forward is to sit down with Pakistan and once and for all, address this issue.