Mehbooba favours contact points on LoC
1 June 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief, Mehbooba Mufti today advocated revival of permanent 'contact points' all along the Line of Control (LoC) to enable divided families on the either side to meet frequently. While asserting that Indiaís Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) taken up with Pakistan would not give desired results unless Kashmir issue was not included as an 'important' part of them, she expressed optimism that the new Government at Centre would carry forward the initiative of 'peace with dignity' in the State. Addressing first ever news conference after being elected Member of Parliament from Anantnag Constituency in recent Lok Sabha elections here this afternoon, Mehbooba stressed for Kashmir-centric CBMs, reiterated opening of Uri-Muzaffarabad road and demanded revival of 'contact points' along LoC for divided families. The press briefing was convened after the PDPís Working Committee Meeting. Mehbooba said that PDP passed a resolution in its Working Committee Meeting while clarifying that she did not contest Parliamentary elections for becoming a minister but to strengthen the efforts for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. 'I did not contest elections for becoming a minister at the Centre. I am in the field (of politics) to help in resolving the Kashmir issue,' she said. Mehbooba ruled out any possibility of taking on to the national politics. 'I entered the Parliament after promising the party and the people that I will raise the issue of Kashmir there,' she said. She pointed out that PDPís Working Committee in a resolution demanded revival of 'contact points' along the LoC. 'The Working Committee welcomes the statements reiterating the commitment to a composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. While that augurs well for hopes of peace in the subcontinent, the PDP would stress CBMs specific to J&K State. Opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road eminently qualifies among the first steps that would bring relief to the people here and give them a sense of participation with the peace process. 'The party also demands revival of contact points along the LoC to enable divided families to meet frequently,' PDP president stated. Mehbooba asked the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government to take the Kashmir issue seriously with 'greater sense of urgency and focused attention'. Expressing confidence that the new Government would carry forward the initiative of 'peace with dignity' in Jammu and Kashmir, she hoped that the UPA Government would accord priority to the reconstruction of the State. 'PDP is confident that the new Government will carry forward the initiative of peace with dignity in Jammu and Kashmir with urgency and focused attention. The problems of the State, which have caused untold miseries to its residents, will receive a priority treatment under the new Government. 'Our State deserves an exceptional treatment in view of the peculiar problems as there are no alternate avenues of employment available in industrial and farm sector. While it hopes that an out of the way treatment would be available to the State for restoring and expanding its infrastructure, the party stresses a compensatory mechanism for the losses it suffers under the injudicious Indus Water-Treaty,' she explained. Mehbooba informed that the Working Committee took serious note of the unemployment problem in the State and the resultant feelings of desperation among the youth and demanded that larger number of jobs in the Government be made available for recruitment. She asked the central Government to lift curbs on employment in the administration while emphasisng that the State deserved an 'exceptional treatment'. The ruling party chief viewed that ambit of dialogue should be widened for lasting solution to the Kashmir issue. 'The PDP reiterates its view that in order to find a lasting solution to the problems facing the State, the ambit of dialogue between the Centre and various sections of opinion in J&K be widened. All those elements and parties who hold diverse views on Kashmir need to be engaged in the dialogue process to find a way out of our problems,' she elaborated. When asked the PDP had objected to the KC Pantís mission Kashmir for talking to all when her party was in the opposition, Mehbooba sought to clarify that the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the UPA says that all shades of opinion would be talked to. 'And let me clarify, all shades of opinion is self explanatory having a broader meaning. It, however, does not stand for every Tom, Dick and Harry.'