National Conference (NC) president and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah on Sunday (June 4) said that holding the G20 event in Kashmir would not benefit tourism in the Valley until India and Pakistan resolved the “future” of the Union Territory through dialogue. Speaking to the reporters in Srinagar, Abdullah also said that J&K was suffering heavy losses because of the lack of an elected government.
Kashmir is now a Union Territory after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and suspended the elected government in August 2019, bringing it under the direct administrative control of the central government.
Calling for a dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve the vexatious issue, the former chief minister said, “The question is whether we will benefit in terms of tourism arrivals from these countries? That cannot happen till the situation here does not improve and the situation will not improve till the two big countries do not hold dialogue on how to shape the future of this state.” The NC president was responding to a question whether holding of the G20 meeting in Srinagar would benefit the Union Territory. “We did (benefit). The roads which were in bad shape for many years were repaired. The walls got a fresh coat of paint. The street lights started working. So we did benefit from it,” he said.
He also spoke about the lack of an elected government in J&K and how holding elections was essential to make democracy functional in the state. “Democracy is when there is an elected government. One LG and his advisor cannot look after the entire state. There are MLAs who look after their respective areas as it is their duty. The bureaucracy is not bothered about these things as they do not retire till the age of 60 years. An MLA has to go back to the people every five years. If he does not work, he won’t get the votes. Therefore, it is very important that elections should be held here,” he said.
The Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar said his party was ready for the elections any time. Responding to the allegations of Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha that a few parties in Kashmir had hijacked the elections in the past, Abdullah said, “Don’t they have means to counter it? They can approach the high court or the Election Commission. Even Indira Gandhi was also ousted (by the high court). There are avenues.”