JK can become corridor for South-Central Asian economic cooperation: Mehbooba

KL News Network

Srinagar

Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti Monday said that Jammu and Kashmir can become a corridor between two emerging economic hot spots – South and Central Asia – to forge regional cooperation, energy transformation, trade and transit in the region.

“Taking advantage of its natural geographical location, Jammu & Kashmir could become a nucleus for forging economic cooperation between South and Central Asia,” the Chief Minister said while winding up the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on Governor’s Address in the Legislative Council today.

Mehbooba said the Indian sub-continent was historically linked to Central Asia through Kashmir. “The trans-Kashmir corridor, with diverse sub-corridors, was symbolic of relative peace, prosperity, cross-cultural and ideological fertilization and human security until late 1940s,” she said and added that unfortunately, it ruptured in 1947 with the partition of the sub-continent.

She said India’s overland connections with her northern neighborhood came to a standstill to the detriment of its diverse socio-cultural and politico-economic interests post-Independence. “However, the current reopening of traditional trans-Jammu and Kashmir and trans-PoK routes is strongly felt in view of the transforming geo-economic and geo-political scenarios at the regional and global levels,” she said.

Mehbooba said not only Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote roads that have already been opened for movement of people and goods, all traditional road links including Suchetgarh-Sialkote road, Kargil-Skardu road, Bandipora-Gurez-Gilgit road and Nowshera-Mirpur road can be and should be opened for free movement of people and goods in the region.

She said this could be followed by similar links between South and Central Asia across Jammu and Kashmir. “Over the long term we could revive the historical Silk Route in the region as a part of the larger paradigm of regional energy and economic cooperation,” she said and added that such an arrangement can be an alternative to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through this part of Kashmir. “The oil and gas resources of Central Asia are the nearest and most economical answers to South Asian energy needs and J&K can help foster energy cooperation in the region by connecting India with China and Central Asia through Ladakh,” she said and added this will create favorable conditions for Jammu and Kashmir to play its natural role of connecting the two emerging economic zones and lift itself out of political and economic fragility.

“Connecting South and Central Asia through Jammu and Kashmir will not only help bring political and economic stability to the region, but it will also revive J&K’s historical and natural position in the region,” she said.

She said the economic cooperation across the LoC could be also fostered by setting up cooperative mechanism in the areas like education, horticulture, tourism, agriculture, handicrafts, water resources, environment and disaster management.

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