Monday, May 30, 2011

Sachchi Baat with Dr Farooq Abdullah / ETV / May 28, 2011

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, says that a peaceful dialogue with Pakistan would be more fruitful as compared to what the Americans had resorted to. He also reveals that during the 1999 Kandhar hijack, he was personally not in favour of setting the militants free, but succumbed to the pressure created by the media and the then ruling government.

Sachchi Baat

Hello! Our guest for today on ‘Sachchi Baat’ is union minister for new and renewable energy, Farooq Abdullah, who has also been the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. He is also involved in many social activities; today I will do Sachchi Baat with him because he has taken an oath to be truthful.

FA: All of us have taken the oath of speaking the truth.

PC: I have been witness to your political career for the past thirty years, in which you have been the Chief Minister of Kashmir and have taken a tough stand on many occasions when India faces problems because of Pakistan. Hence, do you advocate India doing an Abbotabad style operation to flush out terrorists harbored in Pakistan who are attacking India time and again.

FA: See, America never said that they are going to do the Abbotabad operation, they did it, after that the whole world came to know about the incident. Unnecessarily, we debate on whether we are going to do such an operation or not. Let me tell you, we are not going to do such an operation; we are not doing to do it.

PC: You mean we should not talk about such an operation ….

FA: No, I am telling you we are never going to do such an operation.

PC: Why, is there some weakness that we have?

FA: We were never weak. We want that instead of escalating a conflict, if differences can be sorted out through dialogue, then that is a better option than bloodshed.

PC: Who would have more credibility than you, and you have already had dialogue, when you were Chief Minister of Kashmir, but nothing fruitful happened?

FA: No, there have been positive results, since the time talks started during Vajpayeeji’s (Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee) time. One must not forget that when the talks were progress, the Kargil war happened then, but he did not shut the road of dialogue and deliberations with Pakistan. Even the present prime minister would not abandon the path of dialogue, and he wants to solve the issue only through dialogue. Hence, one can all see that many things have improved in Kashmir, like travelling, trade and even infiltration across borders is not there like earlier times. There are no incidents of firing, earlier the farmers feared to go to the farms and not even sit at home, those all problems have stopped.

PC: You talked about Vajpayeeji, he started dialogue, even then there was an attack on parliament, and then again Musharraf was invited to India. Then 26/11 happened in India..

FA: See, India has had a policy; that army will not be used for issues that can be solved by engaging in dialogue.

PC: You are advocating dialogue, but they are not handing us over the fugitives demanded

FA: Now, we have put pressure on them, we have sent a new list. Wait for some time, the whole world is putting pressure on them, not only us. The biggest country like America, European Union and many other countries have put pressure.

PC: Do you think America is with you

FA: See, America has been good for ours; it is not that, there is a good friendship between us.

PC: They did not help us get one wanted fugitive back to India, Advaniji (Former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani) had given a list to America in 2002, I had been to Washington with him them. That list has been repeated again many times …

FA: Things have changed since then. Even in Pakistan they understand that terrorism does not yield any results. Even they might have internal problems of their own, like we have our problems, they might have them too.

PC: There is not time limit to this, what do you think?

FA: It’s not about the time limit, the kind of improvement I am seeing there, I think steps towards improvement would be taken soon.

PC: What improvement, the way people are dying in Pakistan due to attacks happening there…

FA: Even they are realizing now..

PC: But whom you will talk to, even if you want to have a dialogue.

FA: Let me tell you Prabhuji, the kind difficulties they are facing now, we have faced that already. We had told them earlier, the things that were doing against us would devour them one day, and that is happening now.

PC: Talking about dialogue, everything is run by ISI there, even America said that Osama Bin Laden was living under their nose in Abbotabad, and they said they didn’t know, would you believe this..

FA: No I wouldn’t.

PC: They definitely would have known it.

FA: Nobody believes them, its not that only I don’t, nobody believes them.

PC: When they could not remove Osama from their country.

FA: Now they are going to hand over Omar, who is in Afghanistan,.

PC: You think they will do it

FA: They will do it, now the pressure is immense.

PC: That means Pakistan will hand over enemies of America, why doesn’t it hand over enemies of India?

FA: That time will also come; it will come (smiles…)

PC: You as a senior political leader, Kashmiri leader, Hindustani leader have been fighting for India, are you not unsatisfied with the dialogue process.

FA: See, the road of dialogue should not be stopped.

PC: Sachchi Baat…Sachchi Baat.

FA: Let other things be, but the path of dialogue should not be abandoned, it would be very wrong to do that.

PC: Even America was engaged in dialogue, and then it sent helicopters and flushed out..

FA: Superpower of the world, they can do it, Pakistan is their friend, even then they are sending drones in their territory which are throwing bombs, killing people.

PC: We don’t have drones?

FA: We also have drones, that is not the issue, but we don’t want to use it.

PC: Seems it is not politically correct to do so…

FA: Would not be politically correct at this juncture, there are people there who are good friends of India. They understand their terrorism would not be over until their differences with India are sorted out and the two countries become friends.

PC: So, we have not to take any such action in the near future.

FA: We should do nothing.

PC: Nothing

FA: We should have dialogue

PC: You are hesitating to talk about Pakistan.

FA: I never hesitate to talk.

PC: You are hesitating

FA: I never hesitate, never hesitate.

PC: You are strong hearted, but

FA: Truthfully saying, I have seen those problems, Prabhuji, which you can never think of.

PC: Two time terrorists were handed to Pakistan, once in 1990, the other when Advaniji’s time, both times you took the decision, even you are party to the crime.

FA: It is true I took the decision that time, but Delhi had compelling reasons, it was not my helplessness. See, when they hijacked and took that plane, which was carrying 180 people, and there was a lot of hype generated by the media. People were hanging out, crying, dancing outside Vajpayeeji’s home demanding that the people should be brought back at any cost. Then he had to take a decision, and a harsh one at that. Let me tell you in 1990 itself, if we had shown that we will not tolerate terrorism and not taken that decision, if Delhi had not put pressure then, also not freed three people in exchange for people, then it would have been said that India does not tolerate terrorism. Today we are termed as a soft state.

PC: In 1990 when VP Singh was Prime Minister, you were the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and when the then home minister’s daughter was kidnapped, you let off people.

FA: I let off people.

PC: You were the chief minister then, did you object

FA: I want to tell you one thing; you must ask these questions to two people who came to meet me that day, IK Gujral and Aarif Mohammed and what I said to them at that time.

PC: You tell me

FA: I said they should never be let off. In fact at time senior IB official, the chief secretary of the state also said that there is no question of handing over the terrorists. But there was a strong message from Delhi, I had said then itself, remember the problems that we will face if we take this step, will be very harsh.

PC: Did you put your protest on record then…

FA: It has come on record, I had written a 13 page letter, it will be in the President’s house. I had sent the letter to the Governor and he forwarded it, in which I mentioned all the factual details of what happened, what was said and what was my opinion. Also, when the plane hijack episode happened, it again put my opinion on record. You can call Dulat and ask him, he was present on both occasions.

PC: What was you main objection then.

FA: My main objection then was that shaking hands with terrorism will only lead to devastation for us.

PC: That means the government in Delhi bowed before terrorists, is that what you mean to say

FA: Yes. During Vajpayjee’s time three people were let off in response to a call from top central government powers then.

PC: Who were these top powers?

FA: Foreign minister Jaswant Singhji , he spoke. Then Advaniji was asked to speak, but see there is no use of digging old graves now.

PC: But these issues are still raised in the political arena, there are allegations and counter allegations, but you were the main actor then.

FA: Main actor was the media which gave hype to the whole issue. Why did they shirk responsibility that time, if the media had said that India should take tough decision and now bow before terrorism, then I think, nobody would have been let off.

PC: Farooq saab, you released three people on that day, who were also facing charges in the court of law.

FA: Who asked the judge then whether to release them or not.

PC: So, without asking the judge they were let off.

FA: The biggest powers of the land came, the jet was ready, they were made to sit in the jet, taken to Delhi and then to Kabul. Now we are naming them and demanding those people back, none are coming.

PC: Atalji did not speak to you directly

FA: Atalji was sitting there by the side, he said to the people to do things.

PC: The cabinet secretary would have spoken to you.

FA: No, no ministers spoke to me, not cabinet secretary.

PC: Jaswant Singh spoke, Advaniji spoke to you, what did he say?

FA: Advanji said all people are saying to release them, but I am saying from the heart, I did not feel Advaniji was in favour of doing so. But because it was a decision of the cabinet..

PC: CCS, even George Fernandes must have been part of it.

FA: Yes, all of them were there.

PC: Then Advaniji had the duty of conveying the same to you.

FA: He conveyed the decision to me, and then asked me to speak to Jaswant Singh.

PC: Since it was a decision of the cabinet, it must have been a collective decision; you must have had no option when Advaniji conveyed the decision to you.

FA: It was not a question of option, not a question of option, you must sometime invite the then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, he would tell you what had happened.

PC: You could have resigned if you wanted.

FA: Do you think things would have changed; they would still take the same decision, even then those people would have been handed over.

PC: In retrospect you think there has been a fault.

FA: See; let me tell you, doing any kind of compromise with terrorism would be a big mistake, big mistake. One has to either to fight terrorism or destroy oneself, now one has to decide what to do.

PC: But you are saying time and again that Pakistan should not be attacked.

FA: There are people in Pakistan too who want good relations with India, don’t annoy them with such talks. Would one be happy if a democratic government goes out of power there and an autocratic government takes charge.

PC: Farooq sahab, how can terrorism and Pakistan be separated.

FA: Pressure has to be generated, international pressure has to be increased, only then the people there and we too can be saved from terrorism.

PC: In Kashmir it is being demanded that, army should move out.

FA: I don’t know who says that the army should be withdrawn, who says that.

PC: In your party also there are some political leaders

FA: We don’t say that the army should be withdrawn, who will protect the border. The China border, who will protect, that is not the point. The issue is army should be removed from the cities were the situation has normalized, and give relief to people. Where situation is not normalized as yet, keep the army stationed there, who has objected to that. The condition in Kashmir is better than before, an I feel Insha Allah, situation would get better there at a faster pace.

PC: Why there is a breakdown of dialogue between the opposition and ruling party in Jammu and Kashmir, Muftiji and your party. They don’t talk to your son, your son does not talk to them.

FA: See, as far as Farooq Abdullah is concerned, I talk to everybody. I don’t treat anybody as my enemy, if we have to solve the problems facing us, then all of us should work together. If we have to take the boat to the other side, then we must all move the oars together. If I keep on fighting, then the boat will never reach the other side.

PC: But now that talks are not happening between Mehbooba and your son.

FA:Why not, Mehbooba and Omar are speaking.

PC: But they never sit together on one platform.

FA: If the situation demands they will. Even she has work, is busy, moving all over in villages,cities and bazaars.

PC: Inciting hatred against you and your government.

FA: It is good.

PC: It is a fight between two dynasties’s there.

FA: The best feature about Indian democracy is that one had rights to speak in the open.

PC: But there has to be dialogue between ruling and opposition party in a democracy.

FA: There will be a dialogue one day.

PC: You are happy, looking at your son’s performance.

FA: I am very happy, he is doing well, he is working hard, he has got the stamina, he has got the age which I don’t have.

PC: A father is happy if his son performs does well, now your son is set in his career, do you interfere in his work.

FA: No, I don’t.

PC: There would have been problems if you did.

FA: No, there would have been no problems.

PC: You have energy, but the question remains if the government also has energy.

FA: No, there is a lot of energy. See, wherever there is trouble, problems have been sorted out.

PC: Farooq saab, it seems that the government has more emphasis on nuclear energy as compared to alternative and clean energy. Even the existence of the government was staked for this issue, but somehow the government was saved from falling. But areas like solar energy, hydro power are not on priority.

FA: There is tremendous emphasis; there are major projects under progress in the hydropower sector. Small projects are being built, in my ministry a power station of 25 mw is being set up. Machines are being installed in villages to supply renewable energy to whole villages. Electricity is being generated using wind and geo thermal sources. We are going setting up like wind mills and hydro power generation projects but even nuclear energy is essential, let me tell you why.

PC: But it is so expensive, what can one do.

FA: The biggest issue is that India’s energy needs are increasing by the day and are showing no signs of lessening. Even today after 60 years of independence, once can witness power cuts, even in big cities where the temperatures are hovering around 45 degrees

PC: Power plants are not running efficiently, there is huge problem of electricity thefts, is nuclear energy necessary, that to when it will be supplied at over Rs. 20 per unit. Then there is a risk of Japan type incidents happening in which more than thousands of people might lose their lives

FA : Such incident would never happen here. There would be great emphasis on the protection of the plants. The protection measures have increased after the Chernobyl disaster and more recently the one in Japan. All over the world, now there is great emphasis on protection of there plants even more than the construction, even we are doing the same.

PC: Tell me even one country that is setting up a nuclear plant. Even now Areva, which is setting up a plant in Jaitapur, has not completed work on a plant in Denmark. Prices of petrol are shooting up, nuclear energy is expensive, would power purchase become very expensive in the future for people.

FA: No, that will not be the case. When production of solar energy was started, it used to cost Rs. 18 per unit, within one year the cost has come down to Rs. 12 per unit. And by the grace of god, it will go down further. Hence, it is not so that the energy will become expensive.

PC: But then these projects are better for India rather than nuclear energy. Every village can have such projects but nuclear power plants cannot be constructed in every village. Nowhere, a 10,000 mw nuclear project has been set up, but we are planning to set up.

FA: Prabhuji, for India, all things are essential, be it coal, renewable energy or nuclear. We have to have a composite thing.

PC: If you have Rs. 10 in your pocket, what would you spend on, a cost effective thing, isn’t it.

FA: Yes, I will buy what is cost effective, but it is said, “ sasta roye bar bar, mehenga roye ek baar”

PC: What is Farooq Abdullah dream, what after energy minister.

FA: First let me produce energy.

PC: The presidential elections are coming up in 2012

FA: No, thank you very much.

PC: First time you got betrayed.

FA: No, what happened has happened. You have a habit of freshening old wounds (smiling, said in a lighter vein, laughing), for Allah’s sake, talk something sweet sometime (smiling, laughing).

PC: We are with you when you become president, will you call us as Rashtrapati Bhavan too (smiling)

FA: I would not speak anything on this issue.

PC: You are not a candidate

FA: I am not

PC: But if offered, you will be one.

FA: No, I am sitting silently.

PC: Another point is that kind of language being used in politics these days, without any sensitivity, during your earlier days (in politics), such language was never used in politics.

FA: “Ab kalyug aa gaya hain, kalyug mein kya kya hota hain.” What all happens these days, are elders respected, fathers are thrown out of their houses. This was not the culture of India, if India has to be saved, “then humara dharma majboot karne ke zaroorat hain, agar humara dharm majboot hoga, to humara karm bhee majboot hoga”

PC: One has to be smiling and improve relations with ones children.

FA: What one takes with himself in heaven, everything will be left here.

PC: No you tell the kids you speak well, not your own but the younger lot in politics.

FA: I tell everybody to speak with respect and courteously with each other.

PC: I will wait and see if and when you are anointed in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Thank you for coming to our show.

Thank you! Prabhuji.

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