Updated: April 24, 2016 2:56:35 am
In her first public remarks on Indo-Pak relations after taking charge of Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made a strong pitch Saturday for reconciliation between the two countries, citing the example of the US and Iran who have ended hostilities to make a new start.
Visiting the international border at Suchetgarh, Mehbooba said: “If the US and Iran, two sworn enemies, can join hands, I see no reason why India and Pakistan cannot come together to restore stability and begin a new era of peace and prosperity in the region.”
Her father, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, wanted Suchetgarh to be J&K’s Wagah. She said she was in favour of more transit points for people-to-people contact. “I hope our good intentions are reciprocated by our neighbour,’’ she said.
Mehbooba’s remarks come at a time when there is increasing anger on the streets of south Kashmir and a freeze in relations between India and Pakistan in the wake of the attack on the Pathankot airbase and Islamabad envoy Abdul Basit’s announcement that the comprehensive bilateral dialogue process has been suspended.
Accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, Mehbooba walked up to the Zero Line and said landscaping of open spaces will attract tourists. During her day-long tour, the Chief Minister, who also holds the tourism portfolio, inspected ongoing works at Mubarak Mandi complex, Maharaja Hari Singh Park, Tawi Barrage and Jammu Haat.
“Jammu has all the makings of an ideal tourist destination, provided the right strategy is framed to showcase the Mubarak Mandi heritage complex in the city of temples, Mughal sarais in Rajouri, Ranjit Sagar Dam in Basohli, border tourism in Suchetgarh and R S Pura, besides nature destinations such as Patnitop, Bhaderwah and Warwan,” Mehbooba said.
Promising to “take tourism to all corners of Jammu”, she said a proposal for a separate tourist circuit will soon be finalised.
She also urged the media to highlight cultural camaraderie between people along the border. “If hostilities can become news between neighbours, why not cultural bonhomie,’’ she said. She also visited the Baba Chamliyal shrine, revered by people on both sides of the border.
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