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Welcoming Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s latest move to revive the peace process with the new democratically elected government in Pakistan, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti has said the emerging political scenario in Islamabad offers a great opportunity for the leadership of the two countries to “chart a new course” in bilateral relations as envisioned by Dr Singh.

“We hope that election of Mian Nawaz Sharif as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan would not only prove a stabilizing factor for that country, but also pave the way for scripting a new chapter in Indo-Pak ties with J&K serving as a bridge of friendship,” Mehbooba has said while addressing a PDP workers’ convention here today.

As per a statement the opposition president has said there was no alternative to peace process set in motion by India and Pakistan in 2003. She said Jammu and Kashmir has huge stakes in Indo-Pak peace as it has the direct bearing on the State and its people. “There is no way but to acknowledge the aspirations people of Jammu & Kashmir, if we want a permanent peace in the sub-continent,” she said and expressed the hope that in the new atmosphere of peace and stability in the region, Jammu and Kashmir would emerge as a hub of free movement of goods and people in the region with expansion of trade and travel, not only on existing cross-LoC routes  (Srinagar-Muzaffarabad & Poonch-Rawalakote)  but opening of new routes like Jammu-Sialkote and Kargil-Skardu as well.

The PDP president has said the remarkable feature of the peace process that was evident between 2002 and 2005 was that for the first time in J&K’s history, the state government had initiated, catalyzed and driven the process, instead of being a passive recipient of the bilateral initiatives. “Immediately after the assembly election of October 2002, the state government took the centre-stage to drive and facilitate the peace and resolution process,” she said and added that the results of these bold initiatives were there for everybody to behold with a lasting ceasefire holding on since 2003 along the borders from Kathua to Kargil.

Mehbooba said, after the change of guard in 2009, the peace and reconciliation efforts took a back seat fuelling a fresh wave of ‘uncertainty, insecurity, cynicism and alienation’. “The present disappointing situation necessitates some bold political and economic measures both on internal and external fronts,” she said and added, “What is needed the most at this juncture is the political will to move forward on the resolution process with greater trust in the people of the State, only then can the dialogue and the peace process culminate in a resolution that would bring everlasting peace, not only in Jammu & Kashmir, but the whole subcontinent.”

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