New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader and former Union minister Saifuddin Soz on Monday said that his party had nothing to do with the contents of his new book, which allegedly makes a tacit demand for autonomy in Kashmir.
“My party has nothing to do with this book and this is my book and I take responsibility for this book. I have narrated facts. I have the confidence that it is well researched. Let us leave the extremes and come to the middle. This book shows the middle course," Soz said during the book release.
During the official release of the book titled, Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle, in New Delhi on Monday, Soz also stressed on the importance of dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Interestingly, with the exception of former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, the entire top leadership of the Congress party stayed away from the event. Last week, Congress had officially distanced itself from the controversy in a media briefing.
Soz, a former cabinet minister in the UPA-I government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, courted controversy last week after his book highlighted the need for autonomy in Kashmir, saying this had been advocated by former prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.
“Let us sit with the people of Kashmir, the national opposition (Congress Party) and the government and start a dialogue. The only hope in Kashmir is to raise a vigorous dialogue. The parties need to come to an agreement," Soz said, adding that while Kashmir faced huge problems of intolerance, “it was the people of Kashmir who have created this dispute".
The panel participating in the book release included veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, former Union minister Arun Shourie and former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.
Speaking on the book and the root of the Kashmir problem, Soz said that former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf had stated that “Kashmir will never be part of Pakistan and if you offer anything to Kashmir, they will opt for aazadi. War is out of question with India. We can’t fight India, it is a much bigger power".
Shourie also added that there was a chasm between the centre and the people of Kashmir. “The real problem in Kashmir has been in Delhi’s method of dealing with these states."