BJP asks PMO to clarify Padgaonkar's Pak comment

BJP asks PMO to clarify Padgaonkar's Pak comment

"The BJP demands that the Prime Minister's Office should immediately clarify if this was part of the brief given to the interlocutors," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in New Delhi.

She expressed the fear that comments made by Padgaonkar, who heads the three-member panel currently on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir, even before it could start its assignment "is unnecessarily internationalising the process.

"What was the Pakistan dimension that the interlocutor was referring to. Is this part of the brief given or has he stepped beyond its (the panel's) brief?" she questioned.

However, Padgaonkar told PTI in Srinagar that the panel had not been given any brief by the government and pointed to Home Minister P Chidambaram's statement that there are no red lines.

"What I have said with regard to Pakistan is the obvious. I have not said anything that has not been said before."

"I have not exceeded my brief as we did not get any brief. The Home Minister has said there are no red lines or boundaries. We know what we are doing," Pandgaonkar said.

Asking the Prime Minister's Office to clarify the government position on the issue, Sitharaman said, "These comments sound as if they are rationalising Pakistan's stand on its unfinished agenda on Kashmir. Furthermore, it seems as if the panel is arguing from the Hurriyat angle in this matter."

Asked whether the party would seek recall of the panel, the BJP spokesperson said, "At this stage we want the Prime Minister to say whether this was (the statements) part of their brief".

Padgaonkar, however, said Pakistan had been involved in the Kashmir issue since 1947 and the Indian government had recently stated it was "ready to walk more than half the distance" to settle all matters with Pakistan. He said the usage of words to describe the problem in the state was not as important as to find a way out.

"We have to put the terrible situation that the state has suffered during the past 63 years behind us and the only way to do that is through a sustained dialogue, which can lead to a comprehensive solution," he said.

The veteran journalist said the interlocutors wanted to list every shade of opinion in the state, particularly the youth as they are not necessarily influenced by the stands of various parties.

"The perception of solution differs from region to region and even within the region. We have to listen to the youth as they may not ascribe to the party stands," Padgaonkar said.

About the role of neighbouring country in Kashmir issue, Padgaonkar said, "Pakistan has been involved in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 when it send raiders into the state, creating conditions of first confrontation between the newly independent states." He said since then India and Pakistan have issued large number of joint statements in which Jammu and Kashmir has been mentioned.

He recalled that Parliament had also passed a resolution on J & K, asking Pakistan to vacate those areas which it has occupied. "This shows that there is a Pakistan dimension to these issue," he said.

"As recently as four days ago the Home Minister said that India is ready to walk more than half the distance in order to settle all matter with Pakistan, including J & K. So I was merely stating the obvious," Padgaonkar said, adding dialogue with Islamabad is as necessary as the dialogue with people in Jammu and Kashmir.

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