Saifuddin Soz: Kashmiris Want Azadi But It is Not Possible
Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz tells The Quint that India and Pakistan need to arrive at a middle ground.
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Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Veteran Congress leader and former Union minister in UPA-I government, Saifuddin Soz stirred a controversy by claiming that if Kashmiris are given a chance, they would prefer to be independent. These assertions form part of Soz’s soon-to-be-released book, Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle.
Speaking to The Quint, Soz stood his ground as he suggested that the Vajpayee-Musharraf-Manmohan formula is the solution to the Kashmir problem. According to the book, the trio was in favour of autonomy and demilitarisation on both sides, and their suggestions were included in a non-paper that ‘is still available in the foreign ministries of both the countries’.
It’s the best thing that can happen. Borders will not change and it will be a dignified situation between India and Pakistan. And the greatest advantage is that the chapter of miseries for Kashmiris will close because they suffer only due to hostility between India and Pakistan.Saifuddin Soz, Congress Leader & Former Union Minister
Despite Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala terming Soz’s claims a ‘gimmick’ intended to sell the book, Soz is unfazed by such criticism. Elaborating on his stand with respect to autonomy, Soz told The Quint:
If you give Kashmir an option, they will say ‘azadi’. Azadi is not available. Azadi is not possible. So, I tell this government and India’s civil society, open a rigorous political dialogue with the angry people of Kashmir and then come to an acceptable mean. We come to the middle ground because when two parties in dispute start talking, they ultimately settle in the middle.Saifuddin Soz, Congress Leader & Former Union Minister
Just weeks after the breakdown of the BJP-PDP alliance, Soz’s book has given an opportunity to the ruling party that has trained its guns on the Congress. On 22 June, addressing a press conference, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad condemned Soz’s book. The BJP has demanded an explanation from Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Soz’s proposal.
Congress has now dissociated itself from Saifuddin Soz but that’s not enough. Saifuddin Soz is a senior leader of the Congress and former Union minister and this is not just an off-the-cuff remark, these are well-thought-out notions that have made their way into the book.Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law Minister
In the midst of a narrative driven by nationalism, the current controversy has added grist to the mill, with the BJP criticising the Congress for its “soft approach” on Kashmir. Following Governor’s rule, as Kashmiris grapple with another phase of uncertainty, it seems like that they would be bereft of the much needed healing touch in days to come.
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