Welcoming the visit of Union Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, to Pakistan, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Wednesday, said that J&K would be the principal beneficiary of thaw between the two neighbouring countries.
He hoped that the political uncertainty will come to an end and called upon those who have picked up guns to eschew violence, which hampers the development of Jammu & Kashmir. “I want to change the destiny of the people of my state who have borne the brunt of violence for nearly two-and-a-half decades,” he observed.
The Chief Minister said this while addressing a huge gathering of people after laying foundation stone of a bridge over Brungi Nullah, here today.
Minister for Horticulture, Haj and Auqaf, A. R. Veeri, Minister for Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Institutions, Abdul Haq Khan and Legislators, Farooq Andrabi and Abdul Rahim Rather were also present on the occasion.
Referring to the resumption of bilateral talks between New Delhi and Islamabad, Mufti Sayeed said the brief meeting between Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharief, in Paris on the sidelines of the Climate Change Summit prepared ground for quiet NSA-level talks and the subsequent visit of Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan. He said during Prime Minister’s public rally in Srinagar last month, he had favoured holding of talks between the two neighbours countries in the Subcontinent to usher in an era of peace and stability.
“This (talks) is a victory of the people of J&K, who have always aspired for friendly relations between India and Pakistan. I hope this new phase of reconciliation will bear positive results for all of us,” he said, while praising the maturity displayed by the leadership of both the countries to engage in bilateral talks.
Mufti Sayeed recalled his earlier tenure as Chief Minister of the state in 2002 when India and Pakistan engaged in a constructive dialogue, which had a positive impact on the ground situation in J&K. “I along with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at that time changed the course of history by fostering a new era of friendly relations between the two neighbouring countries,” he said, handing out an assurance that he will leave no stone unturned to win the hearts and minds of the people of the state.
Describing cross-LoC travel and trade as a historic breakthrough between India and Pakistan, the Chief Minister highlighted the need to take this ‘peace initiative’ to the next level by opening more trading and travel points across the state.
Presently, the cross-LoC trade and travel is carried out at two points of Chakan da Bagh in Poonch and Salamabad in Uri (Baramulla) and the Chief Minister has on several occasions in the past desired to broaden the scope of what he has often described as the greatest confidence building measure between the two neighbouring countries. During cross-LoC meetings, the Chief Minister had called for introduction of banking and telecommunication facilities to strengthen the trade and taking the travel beyond the ritual of meetings between divided families.
Asking youth to shun the path of violence, the Chief Minister said gun has yielded nothing except maligning the message of peace of Islam. He said the recent mass shooting incident in California, US, in which 14 people were killed, has raised levels of intolerance against Muslims particularly in the United States and some of the other Western countries. “Even Imam-e-Kaaba has in unequivocal terms condemned such acts of extremism by certain vested interests, which are out to distort the great religion of Islam,” he added.
Crediting India’s powerful democratic institutions as the real factor behind its rise as a leading world power, the Chief Minister said Pakistan, on the other hand, continues to grapple with political uncertainty even after almost 70 years of its existence.
Hailing those who preferred ballot over bullet in a series of elections held in Jammu & Kashmir, Mufti Sayeed said real power rests with the people who came out in large numbers to cast their votes. He said people have great expectations and the onus now lies on the government to provide them the rich dividends of peace in the form of development. “I thank the people for reposing trust and confidence in the government and I promise to deliver a prompt and just administration, which is responsive to the needs of the people,” he asserted.
On the issue of forging alliance with BJP, the Chief Minister said it was not a kneejerk reaction but an outcome of two months of sustained deliberations which was presented before the people in the form of the Agenda of the Alliance. He said he joined hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in whose leadership 1.2 billion people of the country reposed faith in 2014 Parliamentary elections, including the people of Jammu who voted overwhelmingly for BJP in the 2014 Assembly polls. “The present government promises to deliver good governance and development, besides providing sustained means of livelihood to the educated youth of the state,” he added.
Flagging the issue of unemployment as a real test for the government, Mufti Sayeed said filling up of vacancies by PSC, SSB and Police Recruitment Board have been fast-tracked to be completed in a time-bound manner. “To create a level-playing field for our educated youth in top private firms, we have also devised a strategy to link education with jobs by focusing on market-driven courses,” he added.
The Chief Minister also assured of providing relief to the flood-affected people, besides taking up restoration and protection works by dredging the riverbeds and strengthening and beautifying the embankments for which allocations have been made in the recently-announced development package for the state.
Others who spoke on the occasion included A. R. Veeri, Abdul Haq Khan, Rafi Mir and Dr. Mehboob Beg.
Also present on the occasion were former MLA and Political Advisor to the PDP President, Peer Mansoor, PDP South Kashmir Coordinator, Mufti Sajad and PDP District President, Advocate Javid.