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NC for inclusive dialogue



Omar Abdullah sees a difficult road ahead.

THE NATIONAL Conference president, Omar Abdullah, sees the dialogue process as "a long and difficult road". Although "this time the dialogue is taking place at the highest level," there is nothing new, he maintains.

The demands made by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference have been repeatedly raised by the National Conference, he says adding the dialogue would have been more fruitful if it had involved "other forces" as well. "These are talks for the sake of talks" according to him. "Our party is for an inclusive dialogue, not exclusive."

Though cynical about the final outcome of the talks with the Hurriyat headed by Abbas Ansari, Mr. Abdullah feels "the process should go ahead". Stressing the need for complete transparency, he says "the Government of India and the Hurriyat should tell the people what they are talking about... secrecy will only complicate the issues further."

The dialogue process, he says, will be more credible and result-oriented if all the parties who are out of it come to the negotiating table. The Hurriyat headed by Maulvi Ansari has put forth the same demands made earlier. However, the outfit was coming to the table after a split, which was not a healthy sign.

The National Conference president strongly denies that his party posed a "hurdle" to talks between the separatists and the Centre when it was in power for six years in Jammu and Kashmir. "Farooq Abdullah [the then Chief Minister] offered to dissolve the House if the Hurriyat leaders were willing to contest elections and join the democratic process... [But] We were not ready to differentiate between moderates and hardliners. So our offers and efforts to facilitate a dialogue met with resistance from both New Delhi and within the Hurriyat."

Mr. Abdullah still sees a role for the National Conference in the process. "We are in a position where we can play the role of a watchdog. We will monitor the dialogue process. Too much blood has been shed for the process to be taken lightly," he says.

S.B.

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