Baig urges India, Pak to open up tourism, trade, sports sectors

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (UNI) Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig today urged India and Pakistan to open up tourism, trade, culture and sports sectors for giving the required push and impetus to the peace process that received a severe jolt due to the ongoing political turmoil in Pakistan.

Speaking at a function here, where Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi flagged off the fifth Winter Sports Games, Mr Baig said that ''every effort should be made to solidify the peace process so that two countries reach an amicable and peaceful solution to their bilateral disputes''.

The function was also attended by IOA Vice President Tarlochan Singh, MP, Mr Nayeem Akhtar, Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir, Tourism, and Mr Farooq Ahmed Shah, Director of the State Tourism Department.

He said that ''opening of tourism and trade and intensification of cultural and sports exchange'' would contribute to the promotion of ties between the two neighbours.

The Deputy Chief Minister admitted that infiltration from across the border has declined because ''official backing to it has reduced''.''This is a healthy sign for enhancing our ties.'' He said India cannot live in a hostile atmosphere with its neighbours if it has to become a member of the UN Security Council. ''A strong, stable and viable Pakistan is in our interest. Things are unstable there and it will have ramifications in the region too,'' he added.

Mr Baig said Kashmir was an ideal tourist destination. The incidence of violence has decreased over the past few years. But despite that ''we are not getting a good number of tourists''.

Mr Kalmadi claimed that the IOA was organising a major international event next year in Gulmarg and was hopeful that Pakistan would participate in it. He said sports should help build bonds of friendship between India and Pakistan.

Mr Akhtar was hopeful that there would be a heavy tourist flow this year to Kashmir. Efforts were being made to develop good and excellent infrastructure for a comfortable stay of domestic and foreign tourists.

UNI SMA RL DS1640

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