Healing touch policy has no alternative: Mufti
30 August 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed today said resumption of trade relations and road and air links with Pakistan will form the basis of normalisation of relations with Pakistan and praised Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s initiatives in that direction. Addressing a programme organised by the confederation of Indian industry, the Chief Minister said the problem with Pakistan should be solved through negotiations at different levels. He said solving the Kashmir problem was not an easy job as there was no readymade formula. 'We have to take confidence-building measures and encourage people-to-people contact as the people in the State had suffered more than two decades on social and economic consideration. Trade, air and rail links would go a long way in ensuring the process of normalisation of the overall situation.' The Mufti said that Prime Minister’s advocacy of the ‘healing touch’ policy in the Valley had corroborated his Government’s belief that there could be no better alternative to provide succour to people of the militancy- hit State. 'When we had suggested the healing touch policy long ago, many parties including the BJP objected to it. But today, there is a national consensus and even the Prime Minister has advocated it during his Srinagar visit,' Sayeed said. Maintaining that there was no readymade formula to counter terrorism in J&K, the Mufti said, 'but I also must tell my adversaries that the thaw in militancy in the Valley is not temporary...It is a permanent desire of the people who have voted for peace to live with dignity.' The Chief Minister, who has taken up a national confidence building exercise that began with his Mumbai trip followed by Hyderabad, Bangalore and now Kolkata, said, 'Kashmir is the soul of India and it is not simply Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s responsibility to restore peace there. The entire nation has to support us.' Hailing the Centre’s recently announced concessions in the information Technology and excise sectors on the lines of the North East package, he said the PDP-Congress Government had also declared Srinagar and Jammu as economic free zones for hasle free exports from the region and announced a common minimum programme to ‘win the hearts of people’. Describing the new environment in the State as ‘very investment friendly’ Sayeed said while the Ambanis had evinced interest in setting up a business management school in the Valley, a conference on Information Technology to be inaugurated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on October eight in the State was also expected to generate a lot of investment opportunities. He said Jammu and Kashmir was now on the road to economic prosperity and observed that both the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition in the country were helping the State to come back on track. Mr Sayeed said the Centre had announced special economic package for the promotion of trade and industry in the State by offering various subsidies to the investors. He said the Union Government have understood the wishes of the people who have no sympathy for the terrorists. Appealing to the people to visit Jammu and Kashmir to reaffirm their confidence in the State, Mr Sayeed said the Kashmiris have now geared up to welcome tourists from all over the country. Mr Sayeed said he was not making the appeal as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir but on the behalf of the common people of the State who were largely dependent on tourism. The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said the overall situation in the State was not bad and the people in general want peace. He said people were the real power, adding that the present thaw in the relation was not a temporary phase but a permanent feature where people want to live in peace and economic freedom. He said his five-party coalition Government had devised a five-point programme to bring economic prosperity to the State. He maintained that a beginning had been made and was hopeful that the State would attain economic prosperity. Mr Sayeed said his State was getting tourists, a large number of them from foreign countries. He said Kashmir would soon emerge the number one destination on every tourist’s itinerary and added that a special Puja package was also being considered. He said nearly 300 Members of Parliament visited the State. President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam also visited the State. Many big functions were held in the State in recent months, he said adding that there was no cause for concern for any visitors to his State. Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister of the State Mangat Ram Sharma and Tourism Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir also addressed the meet. Addressing the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Mr Mangat Ram Sharma said that after the historic elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the people for the first time in all the three regions have started feeling that it is their own Government, which they have elected. He said the coalition Government has also initiated several measures to meet regional aspirations of all the three regions and working for cementing bonds between Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Never before unity among all the three regions was so discernible as it is today because of the policies of the coalition Government. Mr Sharma apprised the meeting of the industrial scenario in the State and said that many big industrial houses have set up their units in Jammu and Kashmir, which are functioning without any problem. The Deputy Chief Minister said that we are fighting terrorism with the support of the people besides the security forces and the police. The people of Kashmir want peace and not violence and their support is with us in restoring peace, he added. Mr Sharma said that industrialization of the State seeks to make sustainable utilization of its rich resources to generate wealth and employment and to meet growing needs of Jammu and Kashmir for various industrial and consumer goods. Minister for Tourism Mr. Ghulam Hassan Mir in his address said that entire Jammu and Kashmir is a comprehensive tourist spot as all the three regions provide unparalleled beautiful destinations besides pilgrim tourism. He said be it the holy Vaishno Devi pilgrimage or the revered Hazratbal; Amarnath yatra or Gulmarg’s beautiful meadows; be it Patnitop in Jammu or unparalleled beauty of Ladakh, every place is an exciting spot. Nowhere in the world the entire State can provide such a variety of resorts and spots. He said condemnable terrorist strikes took place in Mumbai and it can happen anywhere and these take place in our State as well. That does not make only Jammu and Kashmir a dangerous place. He said Jammu and Kashmir is as normal as any other part of the country and tourists should not harbour in fear, he said and invited people to visit Kashmir during Pooja holidays, saying that Kashmir looks forward to Bengali brethren during these Pooja holidays as it used to happen in the past. Minister for Self-Employment and Urban Development, West Bengal, Mohammad Salim, who was the special guest of honour at the function, lauded Mufti Sayeed’s effort in restoring peace in Kashmir and said that ever since the coalition Government has taken over reigns of administration, things are improving as it has involved people in their fight against militancy. Mr Sanjay Budhia, Chairman, CII, Eastern Region welcomed the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and said that CII would be a partner with Mufti Sayeed in restoring peace in the State. He said the industrialists of the eastern region would do every thing possible as also the travel trade people to promote investment in peace as Mufti Saheb has said. Mr. M. Y. Tarigami, MLA was also present.