By Riyaz ul Khaliq (13 January 2018) – Jammu: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday made a rather ambitious suggestion: that Jammu & Kashmir be made a part of Silk Route, the gateway to Central Asia, and a state where SAARC countries can trade with one another in a common currency.
Addressing the legislative council during the motion of thanks to the governor’s address, Mehbooba said the SAARC countries should get united and make Jammu and Kashmir a model state.
“As happens in European Union (EU), SAARC nations can use common currency in J&K like Euro in EU. There should be a EU trade model. SAARC nations should help in making Jammu and Kashmir a model state,” she said.
For this, she said, universities and handicraft centres should be opened here by SAARC countries. SAARC comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“Open routes: let us see the entire world. There is not only Pakistan but many countries which can be our friends,” she said.
The chief minister welcomed the recent meeting of India and Pakistan’s national security advisors in Thailand, saying she wishes for the normalisation of Indo-Pak relations. “Why can’t we be the gateway to central Asia? We should be part of the Silk Route,” she said.
Mehbooba said that the Kargil–Askardu and Leh-Zingzang routes were closed after 1947. “These are the routes from where Islam came, but we have closed all these, and they need to be reopened,” she said.
“Let us explore opportunities of Tashkent, Kashgar, Iran which have been historic routes through which Islam came to Kashmir. It was this tolerant Islam which groomed us to think on rational and humanitarian lines while deciding our fate in 1947,” she said.
“We should also open up LoC roads and allow people to go and see central and south Asia. There are countries beyond Pakistan, which should also become part of this journey,” she said.
She also asked for dailogue with Pakistan on Kashmir. “There is no way out without talks with Pakistan. If you have to restore peace and end bloodshed in the state, you will have to better relations between India and Pakistan,” she said.
Mehbooba repeated her statement which she made in the state assembly that during the 1947 partition “J&K was the only peaceful state”.
Due to the unsolved issue of Kashmir, she said, the year 2016 saw an “unfortunate situation”. “Twenty to 22 youth suffered disabilities because of pellets. We had to focus on their (the disabled youth’s) rehabilitation. We gave them financial support and government jobs. For (pellet-disabled) Insha (Mushtaq), we have approached the Government of India (GoI) for a gas agency,” she said.
“FIRs against 9,000 first-time offenders would be withdrawn so that they can start their normal life,” she said.
The Chief Minister said that 200 militants had been killed in 2017 but “200 more will come from there (Pakistan)”.
She said that her government is trying to bring back local militants. “We are communicating with the parents. I am happy that children are returning back to their homes,” she said.
“Thousands of people have been killed whether civilians or forces personnel, including a 17-year-old son of a constable. All were residents of J&K,” she said.
On the removal of SKIMS Director Prof AG Ahangar, she said, “Government took action against the doctors of SKIMS indulging in private practice when it received complaints in this regard.”
On the Kashmir issue, the Chief Minister said, “We must find a solution within the Constitution”.