Press Trust of India

Omar, Congress see red in Norwegian PM’s Kashmir visit

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Srinagar: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah Monday asked the Centre to clear the air around former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Mangne Bondevik’s visit to Kashmir during which he met separatist leaders.
“What are the Norwegians up to in Kashmir? Would either (External Affairs Minister) @SushmaSwaraj ji or (National Security Advisor Ajit) Doval ji care to put the visit of the former Norwegian PM to both sides of the divided state in the correct context or do we have to rely on rumours & conjecture?” Omar said in a tweet.
Bondevik had last Friday met senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq here.
In a statement, the separatists said Geelani and Mirwaiz told the former prime minister that since his country “has a history of playing a positive role in conflict resolutions”, the Norwegian government should make serious efforts to resolve the vexed Kashmir dispute to mitigate the sufferings of the people and ensure a lasting peace in South Asia.
They said the leaders explained to the visiting dignitary the prevailing situation in Kashmir and termed it “very sensitive and fragile”.
The former Norwegian prime minister-led delegation assured the separatist leaders that “they would use their good offices to ensure that a sustained and result-oriented dialogue between India and Pakistan begins so that an amicable solution to the Kashmir issue is found,” the statement claimed.
Meanwhile, the Congress also alleged that the Narendra Modi government “compromised on” the national security by allowing a “third party mediation” in Jammu and Kashmir, days after an ex-Norwegian prime minister’s visit to the state.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the policy underlines that only India and Pakistan can hold a mutual discussion on the boundary dispute and accused the central government of violating the country’s 71-year-old policy to deal with the issue.
“You must have read in newspapers… I don’t want to take his name, I don’t disrespect him. But for the first time, Modiji has sent a former prime minister of a third country to J&K to talk with separatists…Why? This question should be asked to him,” Surjewala told reporters.
He was apparently referring to the recent visit of former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik to Jammu and Kashmir where he met top separatist leaders.
Surjewala was replying to a query on Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s comments on Indo-Pak relations in the context of Pakistan’s announcement to develop a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, in that country.
He said the Modi government “cannot be expected” to take a firm step on the national security.
“Unfortunately, for the first time a weak Modi government is in power, which has knelt down before terrorists, extremism and Naxalism. We cannot expect it to take a solid step on the issue of the national security,” the Congress spokesperson said.
He said the prime minister has “blurred” the traditional policy of India on Jammu and Kashmir by allowing a former PM of a third country to talk with separatists.
“Today, it’s one country’s prime minister, tomorrow the US would ask to mediate in Kashmir dispute, then China and Russia would also come. What are you doing? This is a compromise on the national security,” he said. (PTI)

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