Mehbooba welcomes Modi’s South Asian connectivity initiative

ANANTNAG: Welcoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, vision to boost intra-SAARC connectivity, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President and Member Parliament, Mehbooba Mufti, said the forum for South Asian Cooperation wouldn’t realize its full potential unless India and Pakistan ended their decades-old hostilities and built a cooperative relationship around Jammu and Kashmir. 

She said the State of Jammu and Kashmir could serve as a bridge in this new paradigm of intra-SAARC connectivity instead of remaining a bone of contention.

“By boosting connectivity between South Asian countries, SAARC will not only gain relevance but strength as well,” She said. ““While the SAARC vision is rooted in security, economic development and global aspirations of the member states, and in the transformation of a region that is central to our destiny, it can’t happen in isolation and necessitates a cooperative relationship between India and Pakistan with Jammu and Kashmir becoming a hub of new economic collaboration in the region.”

PDP, she said, visualizes and is striving for a space of dignity and opportunity for the people of Jammu & Kashmir in a larger paradigm of friendship between India and Pakistan. 

“We cannot visualize any alternative to reconciliation and dialogue between our country and Pakistan,” she said and added that the hostility between the two countries has hit the people of J&K the hardest and the incidents on the borders and LoC should keep reminding the two countries the inevitability of sitting across the table to find a just and pragmatic solution to all the contentious issues.

Mehbooba said whatever the reasons for hardening of stances and attempts by the vested interests to subvert the peace process, there is, however, no substitute to the reconciliatory policy as was done in 2003. 

“With a decisive mandate at his back Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has the opportunity to revive the process of reconciliation in the sub-continent,” she said. “The prevailing situation along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir necessitates the urgency of reviving the composite dialogue process, sooner the better.”

The PDP president said the significant reconciliatory measures taken between 2002 and 2005 in and around Jammu and Kashmir, both on internal and external fronts, had not only helped improve the security scenario in the region, but within the State as well. “At a time when we are envisioning free movement of people and goods across the borders in South Asian region, J&K can’t afford to slide into another gloomy era of uncertainty and devastation. 

She said the ceasefire of 2003, had not only given the much-needed  relief to the people living along the borders, but it had, as well, provided the broader umbrella for the peace process to flourish. “The ceasefire brought, after decades of tension and destruction, relief and normalcy into the lives of people residing in the State’s forward areas,” she said and added that at the same time it also made historic initiatives like opening up of LOC for bus service possible in J&K.

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