Mehbooba for better Indo-Pak ties, J&K as gateway to Central Asia

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JAMMU: Batting strongly for better Indo-Pak relations for peace in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday called for making J-K a gateway to Central Asia and urged SAARC countries to invest in the state.
She made the comment during the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address in the state Legislative Council.
“SAARC countries should get united and make J-K a model state. They should establish banks, trade, industries and universities. It should become an example.
“There should be one currency on the lines of the European Union (EU). There should be a EU trade model,” she said.
Welcoming the recent meeting of the national security advisors of India and Pakistan in Thailand, Mehbooba said she wishes for normalisation of relations between the two countries and that the state become a bridge of peace, faith and trust between India and Pakistan.

Hope AMU student returns and join studies: CM

Jammu: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday expressed hope that the AMU student who is said to have joined Hizbul Mujahideen would return home and continue his studies. The chief minister made the comments while announcing an amnesty scheme for the first-time stone pelters during the motion of thanks on the governor’s address in the state Legislative Council. Mannan Bashir Wani, a resident of Kupwara district who was pursuing his PhD in applied geology from Aligarh Muslim University was last seen at the campus on January 2. A photograph purportedly depicting him wielding arms appeared on social media on January 6. On Monday, Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin was quoted as claiming Wani’s entry into the militant outfit.
“His (Wani) class fellows and parents have made an appeal to him to come back. We hope he will come back and join them in studies,” the chief minister said.
Mehbooba also announced withdrawal of cases against 9,000 first-time offenders since 2008, in an effort to reach out to the youth of Kashmir.
“It (the cases) makes difficult for them (the first-time offenders) to get jobs and other benefits. We started the process in 2016, but had to stop it due to the unrest (triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani).
“Once the FIRs are withdrawn, they should study and live a normal life as a common man,” she said.
Mehbooba informed the House that she has asked the police to help the local boys, who have joined militant ranks, to return to their families and friends.
“It’s my endeavour to bring them back and ensure no harassment to them. Many have come back, but I regret the glorification of violence by some people on social media,” she told the House.
“I am happy that children are respecting their parents’ call, understanding their pain and returning home. Once they return, we do not call them to police stations and they go straight to their homes,” she said.
Mehbooba said another initiative was taken to rehabilitate those who were injured by pellet guns in 2016, by providing them financial help and government jobs.
Terming dialogue as “the only way ahead”, the chief minister said the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor last year was a “major decision” to undertake sustained dialogue in the state.
“He (Sharma) has been working in J&K for two-three months and saying that he wants to talk to everyone and visit everyone’s home. (But) there is no response.
“What can we do? We are in favour of talks. Let people come forward for talks,” she said, adding that the need of the hour is to get the state out of the vicious cycle of violence.

Jammu and Kashmir is strategically located and this should be exploited for positive and gainful results. “Why can’t we be the gateway to central Asia. We should be part of the Silk Route,” she said.
“Let us explore opportunities of Tashkant, Kashgar, Iran which have been historic routes through which Islam came to Kashmir.
“It was this tolerant Islam which groomed us to think on rational and humanitarian lines while deciding our fate in 1947,” the chief minister said.
The state should become the gateway to central Asia. It should start from Jammu, then Kashmir and finally end in Ladakh, Mehbooba suggested.
“We should also open up LoC roads and allow people to go and see central and south Asia. There are countries beyond Pakistan, which should also become part of this journey. We have to look toward these routes in central Asia, from where Islam came to J-K. But in 1947, the routes were closed,” she said.
On Indo-Pak talks and better relations, the chief minister said, “There is no way out without talks with Pakistan. If you have to restore peace and end bloodshed in the state, you will have to better relations between India and Pakistan.”
“We have been saying that 200 militants were killed and they (Pakistan) will send another 200 militants. Infiltration is on. During prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time, Pervez Musharraf had promised to stop infiltration. But, infiltration is still on,” she said.
“India is a big country and the prime minister has a big heart. We should try for ensuring better relations. We want peace and normalcy in J-K and also better Indo-Pak relations,” Mehbooba said.
Pakistan has to understand that Jammu and Kashmir has written its future and the only thing which is now possible is that the state can become a peace bridge, she said.
“The problem (in Kashmir) will be resolved if there will be good relations. Our problem will be resolved if J-K becomes a peace bridge between India and Pakistan instead of a battle ground.
“Whatever we have to get, we will get it from the country (India). We ask Pakistan to stop infiltration and stop sending guns. Let us live together,” Mehbooba said.
The chief minister said that the Indian Constitution is the “mother of J-K’s Constitution and we can get it from here and there is nothing beyond it.”
To empower people at the grass root, she said her government intends to hold elections to panchayats and urban local bodies, and put in place a three tier governance apparatus.
The Chief Minister said a large number of welfare schemes were launched by her Government but could not be highlighted because political scenario always dominates the scene in the State and the country. She said regularising the services of 60,000 daily wagers was the largest public welfare step taken by any Government in recent times. She said it was satisfying to note that these workers won’t have to go from pillar to post now onwards for releasing their remunerations. “We have given them an honourable position, dignity and security though they were engaged by previous regimes”, the Chief Minister said.
Mehbooba Mufti said she was happy to see that Leader of Opposition in the Lower House praised the good work done by her party during its rule from 2002-2005. She said during that tenure the people of the State, its Government and the Central Government, all were on the same page. Otherwise, she said, earlier, people would talk of bombardments, filling the jails and other things which ran contrary to the aspirations of the people of the State.
The Chief Minister said sensing the requirements of the labour class, who don’t have any job or life security, the Government conceived and launched a welfare scheme for around 3 lakh workers in unorganised sector in terms of accidental deaths, injuries or normal deaths. Named as Muhafiz, she added, the scheme envisages scholarships and educational incentives to the wards of these workers. Similarly, she said, the widow pension was enhanced and even the scooty scheme for college girls has so picked up that the demand is coming from all across the State. She said a number of welfare measures were taken for the benefit of employees of the State Government.
The Chief Minister said cadre review of Kashmir Police Service was undertaken, ex gratia amount for the cops was increased by three times, backlog of SRO-43 of around 1000 cases was cleared and quotas for promotions in constabulary were earmarked for their timely career progression, she informed the Upper House.
The Chief Minister said transparency in recruitments is the major takeaway in all the selections made so far. She said Government is taking steps to provide as much jobs as possible to youth in the Government. She said more than 10 thousand vacancies were filled last year by the PSC and SSRB and other recruiting agencies. “There has been no interference in these selections. Recently I heard 75 boys from Karnah got selected in a routine selection process which shows the level of transparency in recruitments,” she added. She said her Government is committed to provide corruption free administration to people and referred to the sacking of some 50-60 employees previously on charges of proven corruption.
Mehbooba Mufti detailed the steps taken by her Government for improving the educational infrastructure in the State, qualitatively and quantitatively. She said more colleges are being opened in the State and preference would be given to the constituencies which have no colleges so far. She said a record more than six thousand kilometres of road length was macadamised in the State for better and improved connectivity. She said Government took action against the doctors of SKIMS indulging in private practice when it received complaints in this regard.
The Chief Minister said youth engagement remains the focus of her Government and efforts are being made for honing their skills and capacity building for a more constructive role in the development of the State.
During her hour long address, the Chief Minister dwelt in detail on the major initiatives taken by Government in the fields of Agriculture, Horticulture, Health, Public Works, water supply, health and other areas.
Earlier, members participated in the discussion on Motion of Thanks which was returned after the reply of the Chief Minister.
Legislators who took part in the discussion on Motion of Thanks on Governor’s address included Sajad Ahmad Kichloo, Khurshid Aalam, Vibodh Gupta, AjatShatru Singh, Yasir Reshi, Surender Chowdhary, Vikram Randhawa, Ramesh Arora , Kaiser Jamshed Lone, Firdous Ahmed Tak, Muzafer Parrey, Saif ud din Bhat, Naresh Kumar Gupta, G L Raina, Zafar Iqbal Manhas , Gh Nabi Monga , Showkat Hussain Ganie , Sofi Mohammed Yousuf, Javid Mirchal, Ashok Khajuria, Aga Syed Mehmood and Sham Lal Bhagat.

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