The only possible solution to the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan is to create a situation where the "lines while in existence" become "irrelevant", Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in an interview published today.
In the two-page interview in the Daily Times, done by journalist Mehr Tarar in New Delhi last month, Omar says if former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had not got into a "scrap" with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2007, there was "every possibility" that both countries would have moved forward on the dispute.
"...if you were to create a situation wherein the lines while in existence but irrelevant, I think that is the only situation. Wherein if you start from Kashmir and then you widen it, we have this grand vision of a South Asian Free Trade Area which essentially would mirror what you have in the EU," Omar is quoted as saying.
"But I believe that is the only way forward. The moment we get into territorial give-and-take we will get nowhere. We have not so far. The problem of Jammu and Kashmir has plagued our relations since 1947, and it will continue to plague our relations," he said.
Tarar has been at the centre of a controversy over an alleged affair with Union Minister Shashi Tharoor though both have denied being in a relationship. The issue took a dramatic turn after Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in mysterious circumstances in a Delhi hotel on January 17.
Omar said there were opportunities in the four-point formula proposed by Musharraf to resolve the Kashmir issue, including demilitarisation and softening of borders.
"Because for the first time he (Musharraf) stepped away from stated positions. I think what happens is that India and Pakistan’s relations are hostage to stated positions...The stated position is that both sides have to vacate the occupied part," he said.