June 2003 News

Kashmir will serve as bridge in Indo-Pak. ties: Mufti

12 June 2003
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: 'So far Kashmir has been a bone of contention between the two countries, but now it will serve as a bridge between India and Pakistan,' said the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. He was hopeful that all bilateral issues between India and Pakistan would be amicably resolved. Inaugurating primary health centres at Chandoosa and Kalantra, remote villages in north Kashmir yesterday, the Chief Minister said militants should understand the changing dynamics of politics in Kashmir and shun the path of violence. Mr. Sayeed surprised everyone by entering militant-dominant areas against the advice of security personnel. The dense forest provide cover for militants here who prefer improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to the gun. Mr. Sayeed is the first Chief Minister to visit the areas in the past 16 years. Men, women and schoolchildren welcomed the Chief Minister with song. 'The Chief Minister's visit is something new to us. We go to the Deputy Commissioner's office and the grievances do not get redressed speedily,' said Mohammad Hussain, a resident referring to Mr. Sayeed's healing touch programme. People lined up along a stretch of 30 km covering 10 villages reminding one of the 'good old days' when politicians were received with traditional warmth in villages. Traversing the dusty, damaged and bumpy rural roads, the Chief Minister said, 'I wish to know the problems and see how far we can carry forward development'. He also called on the family members of the late Sheikh Sadiq, one of his loyalists and senior PDP leader killed by militants three years ago. Starting from Kreeri township where he paid obeisance at the famous shrine of Hazrat Syed Haji Murad, the Chief Minister made a number of announcements such as upgrading of schools and construction of roads. The Finance Minister, Muzaffar Hussain Beig, who hails from the area was conspicuous by his absence.


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