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LoC could become line of peace
Talks with Pak to continue: PM
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 15
Expressing hope of Jammu and Kashmir becoming a symbol of India-Pakistan cooperation rather than conflict, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced that India would continue the dialogue process with Islamabad despite “difficulties”.

Dr Manmohan Singh was addressing the special convocation of the University of Jammu that was organised to confer on him the degree of letters (D Litt.).

Rejecting another division or partition of the country, Manmohan Singh said the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan could become a “line of peace” and the land and water resources of divided Kashmir could jointly be used for the benefit of the people living on both sides of the LoC, once terrorism and violence ended permanently.

In yet another peace overture to Islamabad, he said the dialogue with Pakistan sought to end the bitter legacy of the past 60 years and begin a new chapter in the bilateral relations of the two countries. “We will continue our dialogue with Pakistan, despite difficulties, in this spirit because ‘I’ genuinely believe that there was no alternative to building peace. The yearning for peace is most intensely felt in J&K,” he said.

“I hope and believe that Jammu and Kashmir can, one day, become a symbol of India-Pakistan cooperation rather than conflict”. It is time to make a genuine effort to build peace and create the conditions for a historic reconciliation of hearts and minds in our region. The young people, without any bitter memories, and full of hope and energy, are the ones who can lead the change, he said.

The Prime Minister was firm in his resolve to fight terrorism and end the blackmail of terror in “this peace-loving state”. It should be realised that the real political power in a democracy comes from the ballot box and not the barrel of a gun.

He said “we are committed to winning the hearts and minds of all. We will never allow anyone to stop the heartbeat of peace-loving people in whatever cause”. He reiterated that the borders could not be changed, but they could be made irrelevant.

Manmohan Singh took the opportunity to regret the separatists staying away from the three round table conferences he organised on Kashmir and hoped they would come to recognise the historic significance and transparent sincerity of the round table process and would join it in future. The problems of Jammu and Kashmir had been receiving “my” personal attention and “I” chaired three round table conferences at which almost the full spectrum of public and political opinion in the state had been represented. These meetings emerged as an effective platform for addressing all the concerns of the people of J&K.

He said the government was working on the recommendations of the four working groups. He hoped that the report of the fifth working group on centre-state relations would address the issue of effective devolution of powers among different regions within the state.

Rejecting trifurcation of the state, Manmohan Singh said the aspirations of people in each of the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh must be taken into account, and a common understanding reached on ways of meeting all these aspirations. “I believe it is possible to pursue the development of a united state of Jammu and Kashmir even while respecting and addressing the legitimate aspirations of the people of each of the three regions”. He urged the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to join hands in building a glorious future for the young people.

He said his vision was to build a “naya (new) Jammu and Kashmir” which was symbolised by peace, prosperity and people’s power. People of the state were the real stakeholders in the future of J&K and “it was only through your energetic participation that a ‘naya J&K’ can truly be built”.

The Prime Minister indicated that one of the universities of J&K would be given the status of a central university. He complimented vice-chancellor Amitabh Mattoo for the “remarkable strides” that the University of Jammu had made in the recent years.

Earlier, Governor and chancellor S.K.Sinha conferred the degree of doctor of letters (honoris cause) on Manmohan Singh. The pro-chancellor and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, union minister Saifuddin Soz, National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah, MPs, ministers belonging to the PDP and Congress and vice-chancellor Amitabh Mattoo were present on the occasion.

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