LoC be transformed into line of peace: Mehbooba Mufti

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Islamabad, Mar 30 (UNI) Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti today reiterated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resolve that the LoC could be transformed into a 'line of peace' with a freer flow of ideas, goods, services and people.

Making a presentation on ''Prospects for Kashmir and Indo-Pak Relations'' at the two-day Pugwash conclave on regional stability here, she said the natural resources of the State could be used for the benefit of the people on the two sides for socio-economic development.

Suggesting a three-step approach to resolve the Kashmir issue, she said the resolution process must commence with introducing fundamental principles of the solution leading to creation of a dual power-sharing arrangement and combining it into the framework of Indian and Pakistan polity.

It was necessary to combine intra-state measures including decentralisation and power-sharing with inter-state and supra-state measures to achieve a stable, sustainable and just solution to the Kashmir issue.

''The sub-continental peace process has to walk on two legs -- the issue of resolution of Kashmir as one leg and normalisation of Indo-Pak relations as the other,'' Ms Mufti said, adding to isolate or quarantine the Kashmir issue with a view to move forward on India-Pakistan relations would be walking on one leg, which was neither stable nor sustainable.

Both the nations needed to restore traditional road links with the outside world. Jammu and Kashmir must have access to Mansarovar and rest of China through Ladakh and a link to Central Asia with Kargil as the take-off point, she said.

Suggesting setting up of a Regional Council for the undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir, Ms Mufti said it could serve as a major cross-border institution that would ensure long-term coordination of matters and interests relating to the whole State. ''The manner in which we are proposing to design the new institutional arrangements, the state has the potential to be a showcase for a renewed and vigorous SAARC or even a global showpiece of sub-national community,'' she said.

Acknowledging that the central leadership pioneered the peace process with resolve, the PDP President said, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Dr Singh as well as Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf have initiated and stood behind this peace process against all odds.

Now the challenge is not only in sustaining this new round of dialogue but also ensuring that it was insulated from the day-to-day setbacks that have often derailed the process in the past, she added.

UNI XC SYU VC1856

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