While giving the detailed account of socio-cultural and religious affinity between the Central Asian States and Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Saturday said that the Central Asia route, if thrown open could prove to be most beneficial for the J&K provided the neighbours in the west would allow flights from Srinagar to the Capitals of these States over their lands.
The Chief Minister was addressing a 3-day International Conference on Cooperation, Development, Peace and Security in Central Asia at University of Kashmir here. He said that relations between India particularly Jammu and Kashmir and the Central Asia has been historic. “There is perhaps no field of life where we do not possess similarities. Our culture, heritage, languages, architecture, eating habits and religion have similarity”, he said and stressed on the need of re-discovering silk-route to re-link Jammu and Kashmir with Central Asia and open a new chapter of socio-economic development.
Identifying the challenges to link India with Central Asian Countries via Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, Omar Abdullah said, “Till we overcome this challenge we can have overland contact with these countries via Jammu and Kashmir.” He said air flights can originate from Srinagar International Airport for the Capitals of Central Asian Countries to rejuvenate the historic links between the people.
Expressing optimism in this regard, Omar Abdullah referred to the positive signals coming from Pakistan relating to the normalization of relations with India. “One hopes that the new dispensation in Pakistan at the helm and encouraging voice regarding normality of relations with India coming from new Pakistan Prime Minister would bring positivity in normalizing the relations,” he said and hoped for its befitting dividends to Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister also referred to his visit to various Central Asian Countries as the then Union Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and said that he observed great interest in the people there to visit India particularly Jammu and Kashmir and reconnect the historic relation bonds. “Same is the position here,” he said elaborating that the people of the State are highly interested to visit Central Asian Countries and re-establish tourism and trade links with these countries.
Omar Abdullah said that the cooperation in the development fields especially in the energy sector could be of great value for a State like Jammu and Kashmir where there is huge gap between energy generation and its consumption.
Omar Abdullah while wishing success of the Conference said that the deliberations of participants from Central Asian Countries and India in the Conference would prove fruitful for taking necessary measures to strengthen the bonds and contact between these countries and India.