SAARC can realize full potential if India, Pak resolve Kashmir issue: Mufti

Anantnag: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Thursday said SAARC can realize its full potential only if pestering issues between India and Pakistan are settled amicably to pave the way not only for enduring peace and stability in the region but broader economic cooperation between South Asian countries as well.
“SAARC leadership has to recognize the fact that the forum couldn’t take off effectively since its inception in 1985 because of the unresolved issues between India and Pakistan including the Kashmir issue,” Mufti said while addressing election rallies at Kulgam, Homshalibugh and Anantnag assembly segments here.
Mufti said the current elections offer a historic opportunity to people of the state to send a strong message to the national leadership about their urge for peace and reconciliation between the two countries which could facilitate resolution and enduring peace. “A strong and inclusive mandate to PDP would enable it channelize this urge effectively and revive the initiatives of 2003,” he said.
Mufti said it is not only if issues between India and Pakistan are resolved, SAARC can realize its full potential of ensuring larger economic cooperation in the region as and when Kashmir is settled amicably. “In another way the forum can provide a space for the resolution of issues between India and Pakistan including Kashmir,” he said and added the political aspect of the issues between India and Pakistan would be easier to address if the economic space created in SAARC paradigm is ensured for a potentially rich place like Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is time that Jammu and Kashmir is brought out of the troubles that are not of its own making and its connectivity with the rest of the world is restored through traditional routes,” he said and added that the fast-changing equations in Jammu and Kashmir provide the country’s leadership not just a challenge but an opportunity as well to take a giant step towards making India at peace not only with its neighbors but with itself as well.
Mufti said the pain of the people in Jammu and Kashmir has reached a level where the hope of peace is sure to gain substantial local support. “The encouraging participation of people in the ongoing polls should not be misconstrued as the problem having disappeared without addressing it,” he said and added that the renewed trust people of the State have reposed in the democratic institutions, offers a fresh opportunity to work through peaceful and reconciliatory means towards addressing all the dimensions of the Kashmir issue in a manner that balances and promotes enduring political and economic stability in the State and the region.
Mufti called for speeding up and expanding the Indo-Pak peace process to find substantial solution to the problem of Jammu & Kashmir and addressing the legitimate aspirations of its people. “PDP visualizes a space of dignity, opportunity and prosperity for the people of Jammu & Kashmir in the paradigm of friendship and cooperative relationship between India and Pakistan,” he said and added that a decisive mandate for PDP would send a united message across from the State that people want resolution of the issue through peaceful and democratic means.
“I am especially humbled by the overwhelming endorsement of my party’s political and economic agenda by the State’s young population who have started playing decisive role in democratic exercises as is evident from first phase of voting. Time has come for the State’s youth to fully assert themselves to become active partners in political decision-making processes,” he said and reiterated his party’s resolve to work hand-in-hand with the progressive and democratic forces in the country and the region to facilitate dignified resolution of the Kashmir issue and the issues confronting Jammu and Kashmir.
“I assure my people that PDP would work towards accomplishing its unfinished agenda of securing dignified peace, lasting stability and inclusive prosperity for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have suffered countless miseries over the years,” Mufti said and added that it would be his party’s endeavor to carry the voice of Jammu & Kashmir to all parts of the country and use all forums including the Assembly, Parliament and other democratic platforms to secure the political and economic rights of the State and its people.
“Today I urge everybody, cutting across the political divide, let us make a new beginning, and move forward to meet the great challenges people of Jammu and Kashmir are facing. Let us rise as one to meet these defining challenges of our time, so that our future generations, thank us and say truly this was the turning point in J&K’s turbulent history,” he said.
Mufti said the new government would in earnest begin with the challenging task of rehabilitation and reconstruction process for the flood-affected and also launch effective flood control projects. He said tourism, horticulture, handicrafts and hydropower would be the areas of focus for the new government as these sectors not only offer huge employment potential but can create wealth for the State and its people.
Sofi Abdul Gaffar, MLA and candidate for Homshalibugh constituency; Nazir Ahmad Laway, district president and candidate for Kulgam constituency; Advocate Altaf Hussain Naik; Dr Mohammad Ayoub; Malik Mohammad Yasin; Sheikh Gh Mohuidin; Advocate Mohammad Amin; Advocate Mohammad Abbas Lone; Farooq Ahmad Rather; Sheeraz Ahmad and others were also present on the occasion.