Turn LoC Into Line Of Peace: PM
15 July 2007
The Indian Express
Jammu: Calling for turning the Line of Control (LoC) into 'a line of peace' and converting Jammu and Kashmir into 'a symbol of India-Pakistan cooperation', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said dialogue with Islamabad will continue 'despite difficulties' and the 'blackmail' of terror. On a day-long tour of Jammu where he received an honorary doctorate from the university here, Singh said India remained committed to its resolve to end terrorism and ruled out any division or fresh partition of J&K. 'I hope and believe that Jammu and Kashmir can, one day, become a symbol of India-Pakistan cooperation rather than of conflict. As I have stated earlier, borders cannot be changed, but they can be made irrelevant,' he said. 'There can no be question of divisions or fresh partitions, but the Line of Control can become a line of peace.' He also made it clear that 'real political power in a democracy comes from the ballot box, not the barrel of a gun. We are firm in our resolve to fight terrorism and to end the blackmail of terror in this peace-loving state.' Admitting there were some hurdles in talks with Pakistan, Singh said New Delhi will continue the dialogue with Islamabad 'despite difficulties, in this spirit because I genuinely believe that there is no alternative but to work for building peace'. The dialogue with Pakistan, he said, is aimed at ending the 'bitter legacy of the last 60 years, and begin a new chapter in our bilateral relations'. On turning J&K into a symbol of Indo-Pakistan cooperation, Singh said the state's natural resources could be used for the benefit of the people. 'They (resources) need no longer be points of contention or a source of conflict. We could, for instance, use the land and water resources of the region jointly for the benefit of all the people living on both sides of the LoC. Similarly, there are vast opportunities to jointly work together for the mutual benefit of our people,' he said. At the same time, Singh made it clear that the dream for a 'line of peace' could be realised only 'once terrorism and violence end permanently... We are committed to winning the hearts and minds of all. We will never allow anyone to stop the heartbeat of peace-loving people in whatever cause.' Regretting the absence of separatist leaders from the roundtable conferences on Kashmir, he hoped they would 'come to recognise the historic significance and the transparent sincerity of the process and will join it in future'. Singh said he was awaiting the report of the fifth working group on Centre-state relations. The aspirations of people in the three regions - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - must be taken into account, he said. 'I believe it is possible to pursue the development of a united state of Jammu and Kashmir even while respecting and addressing the legitimate aspirations of the people of each of the three regions.' On his dream of a 'Naya Kashmir' (new Kashmir), Singh said the people of J&K were the stakeholders in this and it would come true through their energetic participation.