New Delhi: Kashmir will never secede from India and those who dream of a merger with Pakistan, including hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, will die as Indians, union minister Farooq Abdullah said Thursday. “Kashmir will remain a part of India. Geelani will die as an Indian. And so will others who dream of merging with Pakistan,” said Abdullah, the minister of new and renewable energy who has been chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir thrice.
He was speaking to reporters after releasing a book, “The Caliphate’s Soldiers: The Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s Long War”, a compilation of the Pakistan-based outfit’s history and its targets of domination in India. The book is authored by Wilson John of the Observer Research Foundation and published by Amaryllis.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is one of the terrorist groups whose cadres, mostly foreign mercenaries, are fighting Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
The outfit is allegedly backed by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Abdullah said the LeT was a predominant threat to the world. “If the world has to survive, the world has to destroy the complete network of the LeT. You have to take strong decisive steps to get rid of the Lashkar. Mere talking won’t help.”
He wondered if the slain dictators like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi “were more dangerous than the LeT”.
“I am surprised. Now they are after (Syrian president Bashar) Assad. Then they may go after Iran. But I want to tell you that the LeT is much more dangerous to the world. Unless we destroy it, the world will have to pay a heavy prize,” Abdullah said.
He said the Lashkar was like a cancer and should be “uprooted as is done in cancer surgery, or we will never have the peace in the region”. He was asked if he was responsible for pushing the Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun following alleged mass rigging in the 1987 assembly elections, won by a coalition led by Abdullah’s party.
The former chief minister denied that the polls were manipulated in the favour of the National Conference-Congress alliance then. “It is not so. Some of my ministers lost the election. Don’t blame me for sending the boys across for armed training,” he said.
He said Sallahuddin, the top Kashmiri militant commander now based in Pakistan, indeed lost the election but “Farooq Abdullah is not responsible for the Kashmir trouble. It is because Pakistan wants to have Kashmir and they think it is in their pocket. Their interest in Kashmir is three rivers – Chenab, Jhelum and Indus.”
He said a democratic Pakistan, free from the army rule and the ISI, was in the interest of India. “Pakistan must survive. It is essential.”