New Delhi: Welcoming the United States offer to mediate talks with Pakistan, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said that if the two neighbouring countries cannot resolve their issues, then America should come forward and facilitate as third-party to sort out issues between India and Pakistan. “Its not a fight between parties like PDP and NC, it is a fight to defeat communal forces and to protect secularism,” leading daily India Today quoted Abdullah as saying. Earlier on Tuesday, the Indian Government had rebuffed the US offer and said,“Government’s position for bilateral redressal of all India-Pakistan issues in an environment free of terror and violence hasn’t changed.

The National Conference (NC) president also lashed out at prime minister Narendra Modi over his recent comment in which he had asked Kashmiri youth to swap terrorism for tourism in the state. While addressing a campaign rally for upcoming Srinagar by-elections, Abdullah said, “I want to tell Modi sahab that tourism is our life no doubt about that but a stone pelter has nothing to do with tourism.”

“They (stone pelters) will risk starvation but will throw stones for the nation that’s what we need to understand,” leading news agency ANI quoted the former CM as saying.

A few days back, while addressing a public rally in Udhampur after inaugurating Asia’s largest Chenani-Nashri tunnel PM had said, “40 saal ho gaye anek nirdosh logon ne jaan gawayi, kisi ka fayda nahi hua. Agar lahu luhan hui toh meri Kashmir ghaati hui hai (It’s been 40 years already since the violence erupted. No one has benefitted from it and it has only led to bloodshed in Kashmir). He added that had these 40 years been invested in tourism, the whole world has come to the Kashmir. Kashmiri youth have two options – terrorism and tourism; Terrorism has only taken lives of scores of Kashmiri youth.”