Omar Abdullah

omar_abdullah_09052013It seems chief minister Omar Abdullah is desperately trying to match with the situation prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir. Both appear uncertain. At least, his recent statement and two days later, his counter-statement made the comparison viable.

On Monday, he asked New Delhi to explore “other options” if Pakistan continues to violate ceasefire. The statement came at the time when union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde was on visit of the state. Shinde downplayed Omar’s suggestion by saying “We cannot become tougher by talking tough.”

The rebuttal from home ministry started a spell of speculation in the valley, where questions are being asked: “Whether Omar Abdullah really matters for New Delhi?”

Criticism didn’t end there. Soon, some unionists and separatists were seen on the same page by castigating chief minister for his “war cry”. While separatist camp described it as “childish”, few mainstream political parties said Omar is “advocating war with Pakistan”.

“Omar’s statement is very provocative,” said a moderate Hurriyat spokesman. “He has to realise that any war between two nuclear powers will impact entire South Asia.”

And when criticism appeared to gather a bit more momentum, Omar changed his guards and said “war is not a solution to any problem”.

“No one in Jammu and Kashmir or in the country is in favour of war as it isn’t a solution to any issue,” he said, while addressing a public gathering in frontier district Kupwara’s Tanghdar area. “Friendship requires equal response from both sides. If one side extends the hand of friendship, the other also needs to reciprocate.”

Omar, an alumnus of Sydenham College, Mumbai (where he did his B.Com.), is not new to controversies. In 2009, Omar was accused of covering up the rape and murder of two young women in Shopian, which was allegedly committed by government forces. Many regarded this as Omar’s first failure.

In 2010, when situation was slipping out of his hands in valley due to violent street protests, he was heard saying: “My chips are down.”

Omar, who joined politics in 1998 as a Lok Sabha member, took on the mantle of National Conference from his father, Farooq Abdullah in 2002.

Lately, his counter-statement is seen as a deliberate attempt by him to tone down the mounting criticism created by his earlier remarks.

“I want the issue of violations of ceasefire resolved so that peace returns along the borders and on the LoC,” he said.

– Bilal Handoo




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