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Converting LoC into International Border 'only option' with India, Pakistan: Natwar Singh


Upset by the Uri terror attack that claimed the lives of 18 soldiers, former foreign minister and seasoned diplomat K.Natwar Singh on Sunday said converting the Line of Control (LoC) into the International Border (IB) is the only solution in sight to end the bitter rivalry between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir.

"There is no solution, as every method has been tried. Eventually, I am not saying today or tomorrow, we can take 10 years, 15 years or 20 years, but in my judgment as a private citizen, and (former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister) Farooq Abdullah has also said, eventually the Line of Control (LoC) will become the International Border, that's all," Natwar Singh told ANI, adding that it is the only solution, as there is no other solution.

"The most difficult problem we have in India is the Jammu and Kashmir issue, but it has now got involved into international affairs in the world and a lot of people have started taking interest in it. We have tried for 70 years, but nothing has happened; I am not saying today, it may happen in another 10-15 years, because there is no other answer. Especially, when they became a nuclear power, you cannot go for a war," said the former minister of external affairs, while ruling out war as a solution to this problem.

"Our people were saying during the time of (former Pakistan President) Gen. Pervez Musharraf that there was a seven-point agreement, even though the citizens of India and Pakistan don't accept even one point. So, the solution to this is when the time is ripe, we can look at this (converting LoC into IB)," said the veteran diplomat.

When asked if he was confident that after converting the LoC into the IB there would be no problem from the Pakistani side, Singh said of course not, if everything is accepted and when your borders are there, breaching the IB would not be possible.

He, however, rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's statement that the Uri terror attack could be the result of a reaction of the people to the situation in Kashmir, saying that the statements that come from Pakistan have been coming for the last 70 years, and he doesn't think that India should pay too much attention to them.

"No, I don't agree, because the statements that come from Pakistan have been coming for the last 70 years, and I don't think we should pay too much attention to them. I will not say we should not pay any attention, because what had happened in Uri, everybody is concerned about it in India. Our 18 soldiers have been killed and the whole of India is agitated and concerned about these things," he said.

"But this is not for the first time that this has happened, they have been doing all along. What they did in Bombay (Mumbai), more than 250 people died; what they did in Pathankot; what they have done in Uri; they did Kargil, but Kargil was serious, so we gave them a reply and they had to retreat in Kargil," he added.

Singh further said "there is a compulsion for Mr. Nawaz Sharif to speak on these things for internal reasons", but public opinion has to be guided by the leadership. "The anger of our people is fully justified, but going to war is not an answer and I don't think we will go to war," he added.

Asked whether he thought that India had been successful in isolating Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he said, "Yes, we have been successful. When he (Sharif) made a speech at the UNGA, no country supported him, not even the Muslim countries as far as I know."

When asked if revisiting the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan was an option with India, Singh said, "No it's not a serious matter, you cannot do it, and people who are talking about it are talking irresponsibly. You either go to war or talk to them. Both of us are nuclear powers, and thus, it is not that easy. When they were not a nuclear power, things were different, now we have to be very careful.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, September 25 2016. 08:49 IST