Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday hoped that the moderate Hurriyat Conference leadership, which is on a visit to Pakistan, will enter into an "unconditional" dialogue with New Delhi, saying holding talks with Pakistan only will not benefit anybody.
"It will not benefit anybody if you hold dialogue with Pakistan and not with New Delhi. Therefore, I believe that when the leaders will return from Islamabad, they will keep in mind that no hurdles were created in their Pakistan visit and come forward for talks with India and put their viewpoint," Omar said.
"I am happy that Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, is in Pakistan for talks and hope that they will hold unconditional dialogue with New Delhi as well after their return," Omar said after inaugurating renovated Zainakadal bridge in downtown Srinagar.
The chief minister, who also laid the foundation of a new bridge over Jhelum river in the area, said if they (Hurriyat) wish to address the issue in accordance with their wishes, they need to hold dialogue with both — New Delhi and Islamabad. "Something can be achieved (through the dialogue) for the people of the state as talks are the only solution to the issue of Kashmir," said Omar, while appealing to hardliners about reconsidering their approach and agenda.
"I want to tell those leaders who decided not to go (to Pakistan) to reconsider their agenda. When you accept that the issue will not be solved without dialogue, then you have to join the process and talk to both the sides," the chief minister said, while referring to Syed Ali Shah Geelani led Hurriyat faction which rejected the Pakistan invitation.
"'Inshallah' (God willing), I am hopeful that they will come forward and join the talks to achieve something for the people and not for themselves," he said, adding that "we want to convert the sadness of people into happiness by providing them a conducive atmosphere so that everybody progresses and helps in building a 'naya' (new) and 'khushaal' (prosperous) Jammu and Kashmir."
Farooq went to Pakistan on December 15 with a seven-member delegation. In the prosperous Jammu and Kashmir, Omar said his dream is to see the unemployed youth getting employment in the state itself. "I want to see the people satisfied with the government...this is my endeavour," the NC leader said.
Seeking co-operation of people of interior city for maintaining peace and calm, the chief minister said the area has bore the major brunt of violence over the years in the state. "(Militant) attacks, stone-pelting, firing, crackdown (by security forces) and curfews ...all took place here. Shops and schools used to remain shut for six days a week and patient care suffered a lot," Omar said.
Omar said his government is paying special attention to mitigate the problems of the people of interior city, popularly known as 'Shehr-e-Khas' and expects full co-operation of the people of the area in maintaining peace and clam.
The chief minister said he is working on a plan to attract tourists to 'Shehr-e-khas'. "Srinagar is not just Mughal gardens...I want to bring the tourists to 'Shehr-e-khas' to show them the heritage. We want these areas to come on the tourist map of the country so that business here gets a fillip," he said.
Referring to the renovated bridge, Omar said when the project came up for discussion, there were some voices for dismantling the wooden bridge to pave way for a cemented link. "I straight away rejected the idea and supported renovation of the bridge to enable safeguard this important heritage structure," Omar said, adding this is only one of the few wooden bridges left in the city.
He said he ordered construction of the cemented bridge in the close vicinity of the heritage bridge for vehicular traffic.