Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said that if dialogue is not initiated with Pakistan to resolve disputes, “we may meet the same fate as Gaza”.

The Srinagar MP referred to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement on India-Pakistan relations and said that “we can change our friends but not our neighbours”.

“If we stay friends with neighbours, then both of us will prosper, but if we remain enemies, then we will not move forward,” Abdullah told reporters. “Prime Minister Modi said that war is not an option now and the disputes should be resolved through dialogue. Where is the dialogue?”

He added: “Nawaz Sharif is going to become the prime minister [of Pakistan] and they are screaming that we are ready to talk [to India], but what is the reason why we are not ready to talk?”

The former chief minister’s remarks came against the backdrop of a suspected militant attack in the Poonch district on Thursday that left four soldiers dead and two others injured and the subsequent deaths of three civilians after the Army picked them up for questioning.

He also said that shunting out army officers would not address the Poonch civilian deaths case and called for an investigation to find out why innocent people were “tortured” to death, reported PTI.

Following this, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dr Hina Shafi Bhat said it is regrettable that a senior leader from Jammu and Kashmir is still discussing talks with Pakistan.

“Farooq saab [sir] should learn now, this regime is not going to bow down before Pakistan,” said Bhat. “We tried, they have backstabbed us again and again.”

Abdullah earlier questioned the government’s claims of restoring normalcy in Kashmir since abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution in 2019, which gave Jammu and Kashmir special status, reported NDTV.

“Shouting normalcy or propagating tourist arrivals as peace will not finish terrorism,” he said. “They were claiming that terrorism has finished with the abrogation of Article 370 but four years down the line, terrorism is still there and will not finish till we try to understand its root cause.”