Mehbooba for uninterrupted, productive Indo-Pak engagement

Expressing the hope that renewed thaw in Indo-Pak ties would mark a new beginning for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, Member Parliament and PDP President, Ms Mehbooba Mufti  called for uninterruptible and productive engagement between New Delhi and Islamabad to take the reconciliation and resolution process to its logical conclusion.

“We cannot visualize any alternative to reconciliation and dialogue to end the dark era of hostility and confrontation plaguing the sub-continent’s six decades long tumultuous history,” Ms Mehbooba said in the Lok Sabha while welcoming External Affairs Minister, Mrs Sushma Swaraj’s statement in the House regarding her recent visit to Pakistan.

She hailed the resolve of the Central Government to build an environment of peaceful and cooperative relations with all its neighbors, including Pakistan, so that the efforts for peace and development in South Asia are taken further forward. “Under the renewed Comprehensive Dialogue with Pakistan, the Government of India has, as stated by the External Affairs Minister, embarked on the twin objectives of removing hurdles in the path of constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern, and at the same time, exploring and establishing cooperative ties,” she said and added that new initiatives on trade and connectivity, people-to-people exchanges and humanitarian issues will contribute to the welfare of the entire region, and promote better understanding and mutual trust.

Calling for making Jammu and Kashmir a hub of this new cooperative engagement between New Delhi and Islamabad, Ms Mehbooba said given its geographical location,J&K can become the harbinger of such a reconciliatory process with the revival and rejuvenation of the inter and intra-state confidence building measures including cross-LoC trade and people-to-people contact. She said this can be done by expanding the import and scope of such activities through existing cross-LoC routes besides opening up new cross-LoC linkages including Jammu-Sialkote and Kargil-Skardu routes to boost the cooperation and economic activity in the region.

Ms Mehbooba said people of Jammu and Kashmir have the highest stakes in peace and reconciliation as they have to pay heavy costs during any escalation of tension in the region.  “For the people of Jammu & Kashmir peace along the borders and within the mainland is of immense significance and I hope the political leadership of the two countries treats it with the same spirit,” she said and added that the ceasefire initiative of 2003 and the confidence building measures initiated by the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee had proved to be of unrivalled importance for not only the two countries but also for the people in Jammu & Kashmir as the state had, for the first time, started radiating a new hope of peace and prosperity.

Ms Mehbooba said the political leadership of the two countries shall have to rebuff those elements, who have been raising war hysteria, as every war between India and Pakistan was followed by dialogue. “If dialogue with Pakistan was started even after Parliament attack and Kargil conflict there is no reason to do it today for establishing lasting peace in this region”, she said and added that in the emerging global scenario where some dubious fringe elements are resorting to atrocious violence in the name of religion, reconciliation in the sub-continent has become inevitable to keep such elements away from destabilizing the region.