Mufti welcomes Musharraf's proposal
2 November 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s new proposal for resolution of Kashmir issue is a welcome change from Islamabad’s earlier stand, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today said. 'We welcome this change,' which 'indicates that Pakistan has admitted that only a solution acceptable to people of India, Pakistan and that of Jammu and Kashmir would be long lasting,' Mufti Sayeed told reporters at a function organised to mark completion of his two years in office. Observing that there is a movement forward in relations between India and Pakistan which is satisfactory, the Chief Minister said he is happy with the improvement of relations between the two countries. Asked if Hurriyat Conference should be allowed to go to Pakistan, the Mufti said 'there should be no restrictions on anybody’s movement. They (Hurriyat leaders) should be allowed to go'. The Chief Minister said the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was very keen to carry forward the dialogue with the people of the State to address the internal dimension of the Kashmir issue. Claiming that there has been a drastic improvement in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir since his coalition Government took over, he said the human rights record has improved as there has been a substantial decrease in custodial killings. Asked if his Government had scrapped the list of wanted persons, who carried rewards on their being captured or killed in order to 'avoid' allegations of human rights violations, the Chief Minister said 'I have no information about any such list'. Asked if the 'surrender policy' had been abandoned due to a poor response to it, he said the policy was bearing fruit but not as per his expectations. 'Surrender (of militants) is on but not on the scale we expected. We don’t want to publicise the process but those who are surrendering are giving in their arms and ammunition as well,' he added. To a question, he said 'the issue of giving monetary benefits to the surrendered militants is in the Supreme Court and I would not like to be held in the contempt of it'. Making an important announcement, the Chief Minister said 55 detenues would be released on the occasion of Eid- ul-Fitr. He said the Government does not want to keep people in jails and believes in a free atmosphere where people can express their opinion. Even those who advocated boycott of polls were given freedom to do so, he said adding that the sense of security among the people has increased manifold. On the developmental front, the Chief Minister said that equitable distribution of resources has been the hallmark of his government’s performance. He said not to speak of cities and towns, the development process has been taken to the remote and far flung areas of the State. He said the diversification of agriculture has been given a greater thrust with the approval of a Rs. 100 crore Horticulture Technology Mission by the Government of India under which new techniques of fruit preservation would be employed and new varieties introduced. He said the fruit industry has been exempted from the excise duty and the Government has introduced a market intervention scheme to stabilise the market for the local fruit He said the vegetables worth Rs. 50 crores are being exported out of the Valley at present. Kashmir brand of various milk products would be established by the Amul Products at a cost of Rs. 10 crore each at Srinagar and Jammu, he added. On the power front, the Chief Minister said the Government has succeeded in completing the financial closure of the much awaited Baghliar power project and a number of other micro power projects have been given the go ahead. He said the modernisation of transmission lines has been undertaken and for the first time a Srinagar-Leh transmission line would also be laid. He said the Government had formulated a minimum possible power curtailment programme especially for the holy month of Ramadan and the system had started working well but some miscreants set ablaze the mother grid station at Shariefabad and put people to great inconvenience. He said the grid station would be temporarily made functional within 6 weeks while the permanent restoration would take 4 months. The Chief Minister said English has been introduced from the first primary and 14 new colleges are in various stages of establishment. He said four new campuses of the Kashmir and Jammu universities have been established where market driven and in- demand courses are being introduced. On the road connectivity front, Mufti Sayeed said the construction on North South corridor and other bye passes on the national highway would lessen the Srinagar-Jammu road length by 70 kilometres. He said the central government’s Rs. 70 crore upgradation project for Srinagar Airport would be soon taken up which would make it the airport of international standard.