People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday , 28 July, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare Jammu and Kashmir a peace zone and make it a model of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) cooperation by opening all routes across the Line of Control (LoC) and allowing every member country to invest in the region.
In a fiery speech at Sher-e-Kashmir Park in Srinagar on the occasion of the PDP's 23rd foundation day, she also said there was no other option than dialogue to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir issue.
Mehbooba said addressing the party workers,
“I request you (PM Modi) that J&K whose name you fear to take along with the name of Pakistan, there is a saying in English ‘catch the bull by the horns', make this J&K and the other J&K a model of SAARC cooperation."
‘Open All Routes, Allow Everyone to Trade Freely’: Mufti
She added, "Declare both J&K a zone of peace and let all the SAARC countries invest here. Let them open their banks here, their handicrafts universities be opened, every one be allowed to move freely, open all routes."
The trade between India and Pakistan goes on at the Wagah border in Punjab but it was suspended in Jammu and Kashmir, she said.
The PDP chief said, “Have we ever heard that there was firing on the Punjab border or that there was war between India and Pakistan on the Gujarat border or Rajasthan border? No, it only happens on the borders in J&K. There is a war inside J&K as well. 10 lakh army personnel on one side and youth with guns on the other. You will have to resolve this issue and there is no other option.”
‘Open Routes Through J&K to Central & South Asia’
She also asked the PM to make J&K a gateway to Central and South Asia.
“Pakistan and China have said all countries can become a part of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a route which goes via the other J&K to Central Asia and South Asia. You said do not do it, but they will do it and they will not stop because you said so. Did you stop from abrogating Article 370 when they said so? No, you went ahead and ruined everything here," she said.
“The other J&K is lucky that its strategic position is being used to become a gateway to Central and South Asia. Why do not you open routes through this J&K? Why not make it a gateway to Central and South Asia? Start from Jammu, reach Valley and then Ladakh – be it Xinjiang, Yarkhand, Kargil-Skardu, Bandipora-Astoor, we are telling you what to do,” Mehbooba said.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The organisation promotes economic development and regional integration. Mehbooba also appealed to Prime Minister Modi to grant general amnesty to all Kashmiri youths languishing in different jails across the country.