J&K can become gateway to Central Asia: Mehbooba

She said that she was happy that the national security advisors of India and Pakistan met in Thailand recently.

Jammu, Publish Date: Jan 13 2018 12:32AM | Updated Date: Jan 13 2018 12:32AM
J&K can become gateway to Central Asia: MehboobaFile Photo

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday batted for better ties between India and Pakistan and opening of historical routes to connect Jammu and Kashmir with Central Asia.

Replying to discussion on motion of thanks on the governor’s address in the legislative council here, the chief minister said that peace is perquisite for development of the state and it’s not possible until India and Pakistan “practice good relations.”

“People in Jammu and Kashmir face severe hardships when relations between India and Pakistan are sour. In the past 30 years, we saw many ups and downs. A new cycle has begun recently wherein children aged between 17 to 18 years are picking up arms. We have lost thousands of citizens, whether policemen, security forces personnel, civilians or 17-year-old son of a police constable who had turned a militant recently and got killed, but we got nothing out of it,” the chief minister said.

Praising former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the chief minister said, “He had conviction to solve Indo-Pak issues and went to Lahore when it was least expected, but it’s unfortunate that during its two terms, the UPA failed to take the peace process forward from the point where Vajpayee had left it.”

“Prime Minster Narendra Modi showed some guts and took some bold steps. He landed in Lahore, as a good neigbour, but in return Pakistan attacked the air force station at Pathankot,” she said, and added that Pakistan should respect its commitments if it really cares for Kashmir and Kashmiris.

“Recently my government has sanctioned 14,000 bunkers for border villages, but those bunkers cannot compensate the educational loss of children of Nowshera, Rajouri, Balakote who are living in migrant camps for the past six months (due to border skirmishes). It cannot provide a dignified life to the people who are staying in relief camps. Had the situation been normal, the amount we are going to spend on bunkers could have been easily used to create better infrastructure, roads, hospitals, and provide quality education to the border residents,” the chief minister said, and added all their problems would solve only if there is no firing on the borders and if India and Pakistan become friends.

“Bloodshed in J&K has to stop if we desire for peace,” she said.

“We are saying that we killed 200 militants, so what; they (Pakistan) will send 200 more, because infiltration is still going on. During Vajpayee’s tenure, Pervez Musharraf promised that we will stop infiltration and that was a major reason behind peace in J&K,” Mehbooba said.

“My heart starts crying when a 17-year-old youth (militant) and 20-year-old solider from Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab or another state die in Kashmir. Some of them happen to be unmarried; some have small children and come to Kashmir for duty but are sent back in coffins. How long will this continue, we have to stop it somewhere,” she said.

Asserting that no politician or party can bring peace in J&K “without the cooperation of others”, she said: “Instead of making Jammu and Kashmir a war zone between Indian and Pakistan, we shall have to work in unison to act as bridge of peace between the two nations.”

“We should appeal to Pakistan to please stop infiltration, please stop sending guns; we have poverty, you too have it, let’s live together with peace and look forward to strengthen our trade ties,” she said.

She said that she was happy that the national security advisors of India and Pakistan met in Thailand recently.

“Whatever the topic of the meeting, it’s a good beginning and more talks are required if we want peace and development,” she said.

Batting for making Jammu and Kashmir a “gateway” of Central Asia, the chief minister said: “We can’t change the history but due to our geographical position, we can become gateway of Central Asia, from where Islam has come.”

“America eyes Afghanistan’s mines but China makes a road and takes away the benefit of trade. We shall have to learn from this and the government of India should start exploring things to make Jammu and Kashmir the gateway of Central Asia,” she said, and added that people of Jammu and Kashmir should also “stop their obsession with PTV and look towards new paths.”

Without directly talking about Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir, the chief minister said: “People always look towards PTV (Pakistan’s television channel) but there are many other nations that are happily ready to become a part of our world.”

“Open other routes too, let people go wherever they want to, only then they will realise ‘sitaron se aage jahan aur bhi hai’ (there is a world beyond stars),” the chief minister said.

“We should eye whole of Central Asia, not Pakistan alone. Like the European Union, all SAARC (south Asian association for regional cooperation) countries should make Jammu and Kashmir a modern state,” she said.

“The SAARC nations should establish their industries in Jammu and Kashmir, open bank branches, make a SAARC University and have common currency for trade like Euro Dollar,” she said.

She said that her government is committed for overall development of the state but for that peace is prerequisite. “And my government is formed for peace only,” she said.

“The situation is much better in Jammu and Kashmir, in comparison to rest of the country, due to the PDP-BJP government. We worked a lot but our discourse is different. Whenever there is a killing, people forget all good work,” she said.