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Omar: Straight from the heart

Omar: Straight from the heart

Author: Nilanjana Bhaduri Jha
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 18, 2002

When Omar Abdullah speaks, people listen. The Lok Sabha listened attentively when the young minister told the world that India does not need its empty support, that India would not let the Jammu massacre go unanswered. His father nodded imperceptibly.

Participating in the discussion on the terrorist strike of May 14, Omar, dressed in off-white Pathan suit, spoke with hands clasped behind the back and straight from the heart.

With a heart-rending account of how a soldier's family was massacred in cold blood, the Minister of State for External Affairs had a simple question: "What do we tell that soldier who defends our borders?"

The Kaluchak attack was "as grievous as" the attack on Parliament, hesaid, because this would have repercussion on the Army's morale.

His father, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, sat above in the visitor's gallery listening to every speaker. When Omar rose to speak, Farooq leaned forward - impassive, attentive.

Omar Abdullah had no time for niceties. He went straight for the jugular. Why was the option of war always talked about in nuclear terms.

"I fail to understand how could Pakistan even consider a nuclear option. Given the size of India and Pakistan, which country will be around?... Pakistan will be stupid to consider the nuclear option," he said.

Pakistan, he said, was working on one assumption: that democracy and coalition politics would delay consensus on any matter of gravity. "They just have to turn on the television and listen to this discussion to know howwrong they are," he said.

Warning Pakistan that the Jammu massacre would not go "unchecked and unanswered" by India, Omar also slammed the international community for paying only lip service to India's concern on cross-border terrorism.

"If this is support, then thank you very much. You can take your support back. We don't want it," he said, reminding the nation that India's fight against terrorism was clearly not the international community's fight.

The minister said that New Delhi would battle alone as it had in the last 20 years. It would also continue to be stubborn in its demand for handing over of the 20 terrorists by Pakistan.

And there would be no resumption of dialogue till cross-border terrorism ended.

The Kashmiri leader said that though impending elections in the state were important, they were not more important than national security. Because fair elections were not possible without security being assured.
 


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