Calling for revival of the spirit of 2005 when on this day the governments of India and Pakistan had taken the first step to build confidence in the shape of the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today said the present atmosphere of despair and despondency in J&K could again endanger the stability of entire region.
Mufti said it was important that the depression that has gripped people of the state, especially the youth resulting from poor governance, lack of development, official repression and recent events is arrested in time instead of pushing them to the wall and into prisons. It is the unstable conditions in the state that makes it prone to negative influences and said we have to guard against the fallout of strategic changes in the region that can come in the wake of the upcoming pull out of American forces from Afghanistan he said. “But we have to be clear that such apprehensions can be met only by creating an atmosphere of hope in J&K and not through strong arm tactics that have been the hallmark of governance for the past four years” he cautioned. He was addressing a workers meeting at Vijaypur near here today.
As per a statement Mufti has said, “Military means can never achieve peace while dealing with masses and ideas, Afghanistan being only the latest illustration of this fact where the mighty United States is unable to plan its withdrawal even after thirteen years of operations without opening channels of dialogue with the Taliban.” He also said while the situation in Kashmir could never be compared with that in Afghanistan but the approach of security and strategic community here has been reliance exclusively on security measures which has made things only more complicated and contributed to confrontationist mind sets.
“People of the state have repeatedly placed their faith in democratic methods and constitutional processes but all their initiatives have failed to evoke a matching response from the country’s leadership” Mufti said.
The patron has also said that though the people participate in elections in record numbers in the hope of writing their destiny but the system has failed them in changing even the discourse which continues to revolve round, arrests, chilli bombs, pellet guns, draconian laws, detentions and curfews. Referring to the reopening of Srinagar Muzaffarabad route after a gap of sixty years on April 7, 2005 Mufti said it was a lone instance when the two governments had conceded something to the people of the state after independence and partition. He said major principles had been established in determination of future relations between the two halves of the erstwhile state when the two governments dispensed with the requirement of passport and visa for travel and custom duty for trade across the Line of Control (LoC). “These measures have opened up the state to the world around it once again, ending the siege resulting from partition but the failure to carry them forward has again created cynicism among people which needs to be addressed by further expanding their scope and removing hassles”, he added.
Recalling the historic launch of the Karvan e Amn Mufti said there was no dearth of elements who opposed it and had tried to scuttle it even up to the last moment. He said the attack on the passengers lodged in the Srinagar TRC was one of the most serious attempts to disrupt the plan but an alert administration prevented a disaster and people in thousands came to the Prime Minister’s meeting to flag off the bus the next day. This he said reflected the positive mood of the people then who had for the first time seen there political aspirations being addressed.
“That environment of hope, forward movement in resolution, political progress and participation unfortunately became a major causality of the present government which has to resort to curfew and force whether it is managing a VIP visit or an attempt to offer Friday prayers by a political leader” Mufti added. Mufti said reopening of traditional routes across the LoC and even the international border has been the centre piece of the party’s self rule vision. It practicality, he said has already been established as both the major political formations in the country, the NDA and UPA made it possible to implement the concept of free travel and trade on our historical routes though the process fell on bad times following the change of guard in the state after 2008. He said nobody can deny the people of the state their inalienable right to travel, trade and build an economic structure around it that could open up immense opportunities of growth, employment and cultural renaissance.
“At a time when trade barriers across the world are in an advanced stage of demolition, it is pathetic that J&K which has a unique location as a meeting point of the South and Central Asia is caught up in a web of mistrust, uncertainty and hopelessness” he said affirming that the Self Rule which actually is a ‘work in progress’ has the potential of realizing the real potential of the state. Mufti said the opening up of routes would impact all regions of the state in a profound manner. While for Kashmir valley it could work as a psychological and economic relief, for Jammu and Ladakh the opening of routes can be an economic bonanza, he said while referring to the trade on Poonch Rawlakote route. He said reopening of other routes like the Suchetgarh Sialkot was already on the agenda but the lack of follow up had ensured that even the decisions already taken by the two governments about two years back on increasing the frequency of buses, allowing tourists, removing hassles and introducing a bus service between Kargil and Skardu had not been implemented.