M A I N   N E W S

PM promises a new Kashmir
Announces Rs 24,000 cr revival plan; hints at more troop reduction
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 17
Seeking people’s participation for building a “new Kashmir”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced a plan for the state’s economic reconstruction that includes Central assistance of Rs 24,000 crore, a high-power Advisory Council for economic development and making Kashmir a priority destination for IT companies.

Addressing a public rally in the local cricket stadium here, the first by a Congress PM in the Valley in the last 17 years, Dr Singh said that his government was working with Pakistan to put a permanent end to mindless violence that had caused a lot of suffering to the people in the state.

The Prime Minister said he had already issued instructions to reduce the number of troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. If conditions improve and if the incidence of infiltration and violence remains under control “it will be easier for me to seek a further reduction of troops”, he observed.

Dr Singh, said that his government was committed to a purposeful dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues. “Our only condition is that, as agreed to by Pakistan, the territory under the control of Pakistan should not be used to promote cross-border terrorism directed at us.”

The Prime Minister said he had extended a hand of friendship towards Pakistan during his meeting with President Pervez Musharraf. “I told him that we can find lasting solution to pending issues if we work with honesty and compassion. We should be ready to talk to any Kashmiri group so that we can give new hope for a new Kashmir.”

Without specifically mentioning the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, the Prime Minister said many people in Kashmir wanted steps for easier movement across the LoC to meet relatives and friends. “I will try to take this forward.”

Asserting that he was firmly committed to the return of normalcy and to assurance of a life of dignity and self respect for the people of Kashmir, he said the Centre would earnestly work with the state government and other political parties to improve the quality of governance and to make it transparent, people-friendly and corruption-free.

Dr Singh, who addressed the first convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in the morning said the UPA Government was committed to an unconditional dialogue with anyone and everyone in the state who abjures violence. This dialogue should be and will be carried forward. But the task of reconstructing Kashmir cannot wait until these dialogues arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

He said the youth were the real stakeholders in the future of Kashmir and it was through their enthusiastic participation that a “new Kashmir” could be built.

Several decades ago a bold vision of Naya Kashmir had been spelt out. The time has come to put forward a new blueprint, a fresh vision for Kashmir, free from the fear of war, want and exploitation.

Referring to the turmoil in the state in the past 15 years, Dr Singh, said nearly every family had witnessed a tragedy, hundreds had been killed or injured and thousands displaced. But I have a dream and firm belief that working together we can build a new Kashmir which can once again become a symbol of peace, prosperity and cultural pluralism.

He said the return of peace in the state would help the government work faster towards creating more jobs, better connectivity, and improve the system of education and health. “The Centre was committed to creating institutions of excellence in the state which can channelise the creativity and energy of the youth of state.”

Dr Singh, said he had not come to the state with a package but a plan. The high-powered Advisory Council for economic development will help evolve an integrated and holistic view of Jammu and Kashmir’s long-term economic and social development.

He said that Indian sub-continent consisting of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka was on the threshold of a new awakening to realise its vast latent development potential. The Prime Minister said he was convinced that Kashmir will find peace and prosperity within the country’s framework of pluralism and unity in diversity.

“I come with the assurance that Kashmir is safe in our hearts and in our minds and should, therefore, feel safe in our secular, plural and democratic framework.”

Referring to his assurance of Rs 24,000 crore Central assistance for economic reconstruction of the state, he said Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had promised changes in economic policies to bring the desired benefits.

Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress general secretary Ambika Soni, PDP chief Mehmooba Mufti, Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma also addressed the gathering.


Redrawing of J&K border not acceptable: PM
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 17
Asserting that India was making “sincere efforts” to resolve the Kashmir issue through a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today that any “redrawing of borders” and further division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was not acceptable.

Replying to questions at Raj Bhavan here this evening, the Prime Minister said the proposals made by the Pakistan President, Gen Parvez Musharraf, were still not clear. “I am hopeful” of resolving the Kashmir issue and “we are making sincere efforts to resolve all issues with the neighbouring country through a meaningful and purposeful dialogue”, Dr Manmohan Singh said.

The Prime Minister made it clear that the Kashmir issue was not in the way of India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The Prime Minister said during his visits abroad and meetings with international leaders in the country after the UPA government took over, he found no such impression in the international community. He said India was fast emerging as a country with great economic strength in the world and it was becoming the fourth country with the largest GDP.

When asked about the delay in the third round of talks with the Hurriyat Conference, Dr Manmohan Singh denied that the dialogue process had been derailed.

“We have taken certain vital decisions during the past six months and we are willing to talk to anybody “, the Prime Minister pointed out.

He said there was a democratically elected government and a recognised Opposition in Jammu and Kashmir. “If others outside these parties are willing to talk to us, we are ready”, the PM commented.

Dr Manmohan Singh, while referring to today’s incident of encounter near Dalgate, close to the venue of his public meeting, said such incidents were being “inspired by those who do not want the dialogue to succeed”. He said Pakistan must abide by the statement of President General Parvez Musharraf on January 6, 2004, that it would not “encourage cross-border terrorism”. The Prime Minister further commented that there was “need to win the hearts and minds of the people” of this state through economic development. He said he was shocked by the reports of acute power shortage in the state.


Pak hails Manmohan’s stance on peace 

Islamabad, November 17
Pakistan today welcomed Dr Manmohan Singh's commitment to pursuing the dialogue process with Pakistan and hailed the reduction of Indian Army troops in Jammu and Kashmir as a "positive development."

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had at a rally in Srinagar said that India wanted to "live in peace with all neighbours, including Pakistan."

Hailing Dr Manmohan Singh's statement, Pak Foreign Ministry spokesman said," The Prime Minister's reiteration to carry forward meaningful dialogue with Pakistan is a welcome step."

Commenting on the troop reduction, he said," This is a positive development and a good beginning. We hope it would provide relief to Kashmiris, promote respect for their human rights and facilitate the dialogue process."

He said the troop reduction should be seen in the backdrop of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf in New York in September.

The Pakistani spokesman, however, said the references to the cross-border terrorism by the Indian leadership was not an issue any longer as the level of infiltration has gone down.

"The infiltration is not the issue. It has gone down and it did not happen automatically. A conscious effort has gone into it to bring it down," he said.

He said the two countries should jointly work towards replacing the culture of violence with the culture of dialogue. "We are engaging each other in dialogue and our focus should be on Jammu and Kashmir," he said. — PTI

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |