Mufti says allow Pak currency in Kashmir

14 April 2008
The Indian Express
Arun Sharma

Jammu: In a significant development which has the potential of creating a political storm in Jammu Kashmir, former chief minister and ruling People’s Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has called for allowing a dual currency in Jammu and Kashmir. “Like Europe which has one currency, we want the currency of both the countries run in Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control,” Mufti said while addressing a rally at Budhal in Rajouri district on Saturday. “As in Europe where people travel to nearly 40 countries on single passport and without any visa, we want people to travel on both sides of Kashmir without any restrictions. We want Jammu and Kashmir to become a model for SAARC nations which will have one economic zone,” he added. Last month, his daughter Mehbooba Mufti had, during her visit to Pugwash Conference in Pakistan, suggested dual power-sharing arrangement between India and Pakistan for undivided Kashmir as an amicable settlement to the issue. Presenting her paper on “Prospects for Kashmir and Indo-Pak relations” at the Pugwash Conference in Islamabad, the PDP leader had advocated a three-step approach envisaging dual control on Kashmir by both India and Pakistan. Describing it as the underlying concept of her party’s self-rule proposal, she had even suggested creation of a regional council for undivided Jammu and Kashmir, saying that this can be formed by redesignating the Upper House of the state legislature as a regional senate with members drawn from areas of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). For the purpose, she had even suggested giving up 24 seats kept reserved for representatives of people from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the J & K legislative Assembly — Lower House of the state legislature — since its inception in 1951. Pointing out that the Upper House with members from undivided Jammu and Kashmir will function as the “council for Greater Jammu and Kashmir,” she said that it will serve as a major cross-border institution that “will ensure long-term coordination of matters and interest relating to the whole state”. Though PDP is a major ally of Congress in the state coalition Government in the state, its suggestion on dual power- sharing arrangement and dual currency is not acceptable to the latter. Rather many of the senior Congress leaders feel that PDP in order to retain its Kashmir constituency was going too far and spoiling their poll prospects in Jammu region. “Issues like currency are a Central subject and PDP leaders shall not speak on it, especially when infiltration was going on in the state and many more militants were still waiting across the LoC for an opportunity to sneak into the state,” said a senior Congress leader who wished not to be quoted.