NEW DELHI: Despite Congress distancing itself from his comments on Kashmiris “preferring” independence, party leader Saifuddin Soz offered more free-wheeling commentary about armed forces being able to only temporarily subdue the community which would emerge invincible.
Soz demanded that the Centre start a political dialogue with Hurriyat separatists to bring about “dignified peace”. While his previous remark – “Musharraf was correct that if given a choice, Kashmiris would prefer independence” – engulfed Congress in controversy and saw the party rejecting it as a “cheap gimmick” to sell a book Soz has written, the leader persisted, saying Kashmiris would prefer freedom and added “it was not possible”.
Sources said AICC general secretary in-charge Ambika Soni spoke to Soz, who reportedly told her that whatever he was saying is in his “personal capacity”. However, party managers concede that such nuances will not buffer Congress from political damage. It is to be seen if Congress can act against Soz since it could hurt the party in the valley. Significantly, Congress expects Azad to clarify his remarks about anti-terror operations in which he used the word “massacre” for the forces. “He is out on a family trip and once back, we expect him to address the issue,” a party leader said.
Soz told TOI, “A non-paper (unofficial) on this is available with government for years. The Vajpayee government invited Musharraf for talks. Later, then PM Manmohan Singh was about to go to Pakistan but he could not because of violence in Pakistan. Dignified peace will only come through a vigorous process. The dialogue cannot be held through agencies but only through a political person, like PM.”