PDP wants Kashmir fiscal autonomy
30 January 2006
The Daily Times
New Delhi: The People’s Democratic Party, a coalition partner in the Congress- led government of Indian-held Kashmir, has demanded fiscal autonomy for the state. The party, which supported President General Pervez Musharraf’s self rule proposal, is setting up a five-member team to present a detailed paper to Prime Minister Manmonan Singh envisaging the state’s “economic empowerment” through “fiscal autonomy”. The party has also demanded that the state be declared a “free trade zone”. The PDP, which is led by Mehbooba Mufti, the daughter of former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, is also asking for a compensatory mechanism for the losses suffered by the state because of restrictions imposed by a water-sharing agreement, the Indus Water Treaty, between India and Pakistan. Nizamuddin Bhat, PDP political secretary, said Kashmir had remained untouched by globalisation and liberalisation and it was time to end its economic isolation. The party, he said, has passed a resolution that demands that all trade barriers be removed so there is a level playing field in the IT, bio-tech, food processing and commercial farming sectors. “Economic empowerment is impossible without fiscal autonomy and political stability,” Bhat said, adding that these issue would be taken up with the prime minister.