Minister for Science, Technology and Animal Husbandry, Sajad Gani Lone, Friday said that economic empowerment of people of Jammu and Kashmir is must as only then people can decide rationally about their future.

Minister for Science, Technology and Animal Husbandry Sajad Gani Lone Speaking at a seminar, "Kashmir: The Way Forward" in Srinagar on Friday.
Minister for Science, Technology and Animal Husbandry Sajad Gani Lone Speaking at a seminar, “Kashmir: The Way Forward” in Srinagar on Friday.

“The people who are economically empowered are actually those who enjoy political freedom,” Sajad said.

Sajad, a former separatist turned unionist politician, was speaking at a seminar titled “Kashmir: The Way Forward”, organized by OP Jindal University, NCR, Delhi.

He said that for last twenty years only one dimension of Kashmir issue was focused by leaders in Kashmir i.e. resolution of the dispute but, he said, “Kashmir is a multi dimensional. We have been rendered economically disempowered.”

He said that focusing on resolution is must but other issues are equally important. “People need roads, hospitals and schools are of utmost importance and it can’t happen in vacuum,” he added.

“In last 12 to 13 years, I have seen massive and rapid development in mainland India and Kashmir was left behind,” he said adding, “If we are taken along and development happens in Kashmir, I think people will start taking decisions rationally.”

Sajad emphasized that dialogue with all stake holders of Kashmir Issue is imperative. “Dialogue, for the sake of conclusive solution not for the sake of dialogue, is vital. Decisive engagement with all stake holders is must,” he said.

He, however, added that local stakeholders need to “speak for the people they are supposed to speak for not for those who don’t want them”.

Sajad asserted that the situation in globalized world has changed and regionalism is gaining momentum. “The things which seem relevant today would be irrelevant tomorrow in terms of emerging regionalism,” he said.

“The relation between ideology and development is irreversible. We need to see how ideology impacts development,” he maintained.

“Definition of sovereign in Kashmir is absolute which is found nowhere in outside world, Things have changed. Now there are UN, EU, SAARC and NATO,” he said.

New South Asian Studies Centre head of OP Jindal University, Prof Mohsin Raza Khan said that Kashmiris need to give a secular look to their struggle for their rights.

“World will recognise Kashmiris when every kind of people are there in their voice. A secular voice is needed,” he told the gathering consisting of students and some teaching faculty from Kashmir University.

“People should support return of Kashmiri Pandits and they should be rehabilitated at their native places instead of clusters,” he said.

Prof Khan further said that Kashmir has a huge tourism potential which can flip its economy but only 10 to 15 percent of it has been exploited so far.

“Developed countries don’t rely on their agri based economy and same way Kashmir can exploit its tourism potential fully and with that other services shall start operating themselves here,” he said while giving examples of Switzerland and other European nations.

The seminar was followed by a question answer session in which Minister Sajad Gani was asked how economic empowerment can solve Kashmir issue.

“I didn’t say that economic empowerment can solve Kashmir issue,” he replied while leaving the seminar hall.


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