Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Friday reiterated the importance of restoration of Kashmir’s natural routes instead of just focusing on one man-made land route which has failed the people time and again.
Addressing the Friday congregations at the historic Jamia Masjid he said that roads were the lifelines of any city, state or country facilitating not only transportation but also trade.
“Today the whole world is being better connected through roads, railways etc. As opposed to this Kashmir is one of the few places where instead of progress there is regress in terms of development of these lifelines. Jammu Kashmir Highway, the only road route connecting Kashmir valley to the rest of world, remains closed for most part of winter months due to rains and snowfall causing hardships for the people. Despite many promises of development of this Highway not much has improved which results in regular threat to the Valley of being left without essential supplies,” he said.
“Even at this time of thousands of passengers and supply trucks to Kashmir are stranded on Jammu – Srinagar Highway as a result of its closure due to slight bad weather in the region, causing lot of hardships to the travelling passengers and supply starved people of Kashmir,” he added.
Mirwaiz said that sad part is that Kashmir has many natural routes which facilitated its trade and commerce in the past at international level. Kashmir was a hub of crossroads connecting South and Central Asia and a key part of the Silk Route between China and West Asia as well as Europe.
“Hazrat Shah Hamadan (RA) travelled to Kashmir from Tajikistan through the Northern Route. The Greek coins at SPS museum are a testament to the fact that Kashmir was a part of international trade and commerce 2000 years back and Kashmir flourished economically and culturally through this connectivity. However, instead of trying to develop these natural routes, they were deliberately closed and Kashmiris were made dependent on this sole land route that closes in winter thereby cutting it off from the rest of the world,” the Hurriyat (M) chairman said.
“This has negatively impacted both Kashmir’s economy as well as prosperity, “ Mirwaiz said and added that while the JK highway needs to be improved upon, economic growth of the region demands that alternative routes be opened up and developed.
“It will restore Kashmir’s historical and rightful role as a hub of trade and crossroads between South and Central Asia and as an important part of the ancient Silk Route. This will not only benefit Kashmir, but whole of South Asia. At a time when China and other countries including India and Pakistan are cooperating to re-establish the Ancient Silk Route – the web of land and sea connections that once flourished in Asia – it is time to reconnect Kashmir,” he demanded.
Mirwaiz reiterated that the Kashmir issue needs to be addressed by India and Pakistan, sooner than later. “While it is encouraging that both sides have realized that there can be no military solution to the problem and talks between them have resumed, it is also a fact that unless Kashmiri resistance leadership is engaged in the process no progress can be made, as they represent the aspirations of the people who have been struggling for the past more than 60 years,” the Hurriyat (M) chairman said.