Talks with Pak only viable option, plebiscite no longer relevant: Chidambaram

Talks with Pak only viable option, plebiscite no longer relevant: Chidambaram
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SRINAGAR: Former home minister and senior Congress leader P Chidamabaram has said there is no other option to avoid war than to hold talks with Pakistan. He also said the offer of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir had been made under very different conditions, which has entirely changed since then, making it no longer relevant.
Pitching for talks with Pakistan, he said though dealing with that neigbouring nation was “very complicated,” there was no other option to avoid war, PTI reported.
The senior Congress leader said that for about 70 years now, both Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir are being governed by two countries, however, now “the entire ground conditions have changed”.
In response to a question, he said that dealing with Pakistan was more complex, which involved a mixture of areas like foreign, defence and security policies.
“So it is very complicated dealing with Pakistan… but as Vajpayeeji once said and [former prime minister] Dr Manmohan Singh repeated, Pakistan is our neighbour, we can change our friends, we cannot change our neighbours. We have to live with Pakistan forever and ever.”
While recalling the wars fought between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, he said, “Ultimately, we have to talk to Pakistan…you may get nothing out it, you may call me a pacifist, I am firmly of the view that war does not solve any problems.”
“Plebiscite was offered under very different conditions, please understand that,” he said adding, that since then the conditions have changed dramatically.
Fielding a question from a member of the audience – a DMK functionary – at his “Undaunted: Saving the Idea of India” release event at Chennai, he said plebiscite was offered to a ‘united Kashmir. Since then the conditions have changed and nearly about one half of Jammu and Kashmir is Pakistan occupied now.”
The senior DMK functionary, Thamizhachi Thangapandian, wanted to know about the “promise made by Jawaharlal Nehru,” obviously referring to the offer of plebiscite.
“Plebiscite was offered to the whole of Jammu and Kashmir…now Jammu thinks differently, Ladakh, Leh and Kargil think differently today… The ‘problem’ was essentially confined to the Kashmir valley and there was no problem in regions like Leh and Kargil, he said and recalled his visit to these two regions,” Chidambaram said.
He said that within the Indian Union, “what they are asking is and as far as I have understood is a large degree of self government, which I think we should give them and we can give them.”
Tensions escalated between Islamabad and New Delhi after the February 14 suicide attack in which a young man – a native of Kashmir – rammed an explosives-laden car into an Indian paramilitary convoy, killing 49 personnel in Pulwama district.