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Omar asks Union govt whether it considers Taliban a terror organisation

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Reiterates demand for restoration of J&K’s statehood before assembly polls

Jammu: A day after India officially talked to the Taliban, former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday asked the Union government to clarify whether or not it considered the outfit a terror organisation.

“Either Taliban is a terror organisation or it is not. Please clarify to us how you (GoI) see the Taliban,” the National Conference vice-president told reporters after an Indian representative in Doha met a Taliban leader on Tuesday.

This was the first officially acknowledged meeting when Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai and conveyed India’s concerns that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism.

“Is the Taliban a terrorist organisation and if it is not, will you move to the United Nations to delist it as a terror organisation. Right now, you (India) are presiding over the UN Security Council,” Abdullah, who has been a Minister of State for External Affairs during Vajpayee’s tenure, said.

Citing media reports, he questioned that if the Taliban is a terror outfit then why is the government engaging with it in Qatar.

“They are engaging Taliban. It is in today’s news that you are talking to each other in Qatar. If you are talking to them, why are you asking this question to me,” he said.

He was replying to a question whether India should engage with the Taliban and give it a chance.

“Either the Taliban is a terror organisation or it is not. Please clarify how you (GoI) see the Taliban,” the NC vice-president asked the Union government.

He further asked how does one distinguish the Taliban from other terrorist outfits. “If it is not a terrorist organisation, please move in the UN to remove it from the list of terror organisations. Let its bank accounts start functioning, let us not treat them differently,” Abdullah said.

The former chief minister said there should not be different yardsticks for different terror organisations.

“If they are a terror organisation, why are you (GoI) talking to them? If they are not a terror organisation, why are you banning their bank accounts? Why are you not recognizing their government? Make up your mind,” he said.

To a question about recent utterances by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah said that he was not answerable for it as he is not a spokesperson or an office-bearer of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).

Earlier while addressing National Conference functionaries of Jammu province at the Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here, he sought the grant of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir before holding elections to the legislative assembly.

“This is a promise made by the prime minister and the home minister, and it should be kept,” he said.

Abdullah, a former chief minister, said the NC will continue to fight for full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

“The fact is that people overwhelmingly want, rising above political affiliations, the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a state back,” he said, adding that the statehood should not have been snatched in the first place.

The measure has annoyed the people to such an extent that even those in Ladakh too want restoration of permanent residence procedure as per the norms prevalent before August 2019, Omar Abdullah added.

He said the NC firmly believes in the Constitution and the supremacy of the Supreme Court.

“We will not backtrack from our stand on these vital issues,” the NC leader said, adding that the party has all along stood for democracy and worked towards strengthening the nation.

Dwelling upon the working of the party, he called upon the cadre to reach out to the people in a big way. He said strengthening the party at the grassroots level is imperative for meeting the challenges faced in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The National Conference reflects the urges and aspirations of all segments of the people in all the regions and sub-regions of J&K,” Abdullah said.

“We have to collectively work towards realising the urges of the people, which are distinct,” he added.

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