National Conference president Farooq Abdullah has said that lasting peace can be achieved in Kashmir only through dialogue and the Centre should hold talks with the Hurriyat leaders.
Referring to Army chief Bipin Rawat's comment a day earlier on engaging with Taliban without any preconditions, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said if the Army could suggest it, then the Centre should also talk with the Hurriyat leaders to solve the Kashmir issue.
Speaking at a discussion on "J&K The Road Ahead", organised by the Centre for Peace and Progress in Kolkata, Abdullah said the leaders of Hurriyat have Indian passports and in the past, leaders such as former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee have held dialogue with them.
"The Army and use of force can never be a solution to the Kashmir crisis and lasting peace can be achieved only through dialogue," he told the gathering which included retired senior army officers and academicians from the city.
Expressing hope that dialogue on the Kashmir issue could start after the Lok Sabha polls, Abdullah said each election has divided the country instead of uniting it.
"There is mistrust between Delhi and Kashmir and an atmosphere of hate has been created in the country," he said.