Let Pakistanis Visit J&K, Sayeed Asks Centre
1 June 2003
The Times of India
Baramulla: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday asked the Centre to allow people from Pakistan to visit the state to clear their misgivings that Kashmiris were 'captives' of security forces. 'Kashmir is a human problem .. there are families divided on either side (of the Line of Control). Let the people from Pakistan come here and they will change their mindset that Kashmiris are captives of Indian security forces,' Sayeed told a public meeting jointly addressed by him and Congress president Sonia Gandhi here. Addressing apprehensions that militants might sneak into the state if the Rawalpindi road between it and Pakistan was opened, Sayeed said there would be proper checking of documents and records would be maintained as to 'who is going where.' Supporting the recent peace initiatives towards Pakistan launched by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Chief Minister said these would have to be given time if they were to succeed. Earlier, state finance minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, in his welcome address, said the coalition government's initiative to heal the wounds of the people led to the latest peace moves between India and Pakistan. Addressing Gandhi, he said 'we hope you will continue to support the moves of the state government to bring back peace and stability and that the Rawalpindi road will be open when you visit Jammu and Kashmir the next time'. Thanking Gandhi for her 'whole hearted' support to his government, Sayeed said 'we will change the system that has denied justice to the people of the state for so long'. Sayeed warned corrupt officials in the state to mend their ways or 'face the consequences' as the vigilance department was being strengthened. 'We did not take any action against any official when we took over (power). We wanted to give them a chance to change themselves but it will not be tolerated any more,' he said. He congratulated the people for braving the threats of terrorists and participating in last year's assembly elections.