Abdullah rules out leadership change in J&K, signals resolve

Abdullah rules out leadership change in J&K, signals resolve

Srinagar: Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, has dismissed suggestions for a change in the state’s leadership, even as he expressed confidence that the current crisis would pass.

In an interview, the chief minister of a state that has been roiled by violence over the past few weeks, after months of relative calm, indicated that a long-term resolution to the problem would be to provide, in the absence of alternatives in the private sector, jobs in the state government to address the “aspirations" of the youth, many of whom have been at the centre of the ongoing strife in the state.

Abdullah candidly conceded that it was difficult to attract private investments to the Kashmir valley given the current circumstances—“for a simple reason that if you have two weeks of hartal (shutdowns) during which no production is possible," he said.

He also pointed out that the ongoing protests—some violent—in the state do not seem to be against him or his government, and that a larger issue, the long-festering dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, was at the core of the problem. He said the protests could be resolved politically “between India and Pakistan and between Delhi and the state".

Abdullah was also critical about the role of the main opposition party in the state, the People’s Democratic Party, which boycotted an all-party meet on Monday. “I regret that at this time, my principal opposition party has chosen to play the role of a destructive opposition party."