M A I N   N E W S

PM proposes 5-point peace agenda
Says detainees’ cases to be reviewed
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 24
Assuring a review of the cases of all detainees, including those who had crossed over after violating the Indian laws and were now anxious to come back, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed a five-point agenda for discussions aimed at strengthening political institutions and other arrangements between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir.

Setting the tone for the deliberations at the second roundtable conference here this afternoon, Dr Singh reaffirmed that even as security continued to receive the Centre’s attention, “The security forces are in the state to protect the people and their stay is based on this premise.”

Elaborating, he listed five aspects for focussed attention at the roundtable discussions. He outlined these as: (a) what are the political institutions and arrangements which can strengthen the relationship between the state and the Centre? The focus can be on security of the people, human rights and good governance; (b) while recognising their distinct identities how can the different regions of the state be brought closer with each other; (c) what is the economic future of the state; (d) what are the steps needed to restore public self confidence, strengthening each region of J and K so that they can blossom and harmonise relations among themselves; and (e) what are the steps required to bring people from both sides of the LoC closer to each other.

The PDP and some other groups and organisations have urged the Centre that the detainees across the border should be allowed to return home and join the national mainstream. Sources place the number of these misguided Kashmiris in the range of 2000-2500. Another group claimed these youth trapped across the border are desperate and are willing to go to jail in this country so as to return to their hearth and homes.

Stressing that the series of roundtable conferences is not only important for Kashmir but the whole of India, Dr Singh alluded to three dimensions of the problems of J and K. “One is the relationship between Delhi and Srinagar and the other is the relationship between Delhi and Islamabad. These two dimensions are, of course, different but each affects the other. In your exchange of ideas here, I want you to keep this in mind.”

Noting that when the roundtable was initiated three months ago there was agreement to move together towards building a new Kashmir in J and K and expressed happiness that their participation today “comes from your decision to become part of the process of bringing peace and improvement to this beautiful land. I hope with our collective work we will certainly be successful in building such a Kashmir.”

Reiterating that for the UPA government the welfare of Jammu and Kashmir was of top most priority, he observed with great sorrow that there were some elements in the state “who did not wish this dream to become a reality. Who these elements are we all know very well. I know you all are with me in making our resolve even stronger to ensure that every resident of this state is protected from such terrorist acts and atrocities. We are prepared to take every step towards achieving this objective. We condemn such activities and will ensure that such plans fail.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that the first roundtable conference had recognised that to resolve political issues, all forms of dialogue must continue. In this connection, the dialogue with the All-Party Hurriyat Conference was positive. “They are prepared to take this forward and are ready to prepare proposals. I hope at the appropriate time they will also join the series of roundtable conferences so that they can share their views.”

Dr Singh had no doubt that the huge political challenges had, therefore, to be continually addressed. At the same time the Rs 27,000 crore reconstruction plans were also moving forward for which specific plans for the development of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh were in place. The long-term vision for J and K, which was being prepared by the Task Force on J and K under Dr Rangarajan, was ready to submit its report and the recommendations of this report would be included in the 11th Five Year Plan.

He said it was their effort and desire that there should be prosperity on both sides of the line of control. Interestingly, the Prime Minister spoke in Urdu.


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