'We are concerned over infiltration from PoK'

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Srinagar, May 12: Expressing concern over the infiltration attempts by militants from across the border, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today expressed hope that the new government in Pakistan would cooperate to check it.

The infiltration of militants from across the border, particularly during the last two months, was the only concern, Mr Azad informed British High Commissioner in India Sir Richard Stagg, who called on him here this morning. However, Mr Azad expressed the hope that the new government in Pakistan would cooperate with India in checking the infiltration. He said the peace process, which had slowed down due to internal situation in Pakistan, would be taken forward by the new government.

The High Commissioner, on his maiden visit to the state, was accompanied by First Secretary in the High Commission Victoria Whitford.

About starting the cross LoC trade, the Chief Minister said the country was ready and infrastructure in terms of custom building had been put in place one-and-a-half years ago and the items for the cross LoC trade identified.

He said ''things'' had been slowed down in the wake of the internal situation in Pakistan following the events in February last year.

He hoped that with the new government in place in Pakistan the process would move forward.

He said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's upcoming visit to Islamabad later this month would give further push to the improvement in bilateral relations, which he, quoting the Pakistan Defence Minister, said were the best during the last four years.

During the breakfast meeting, they discussed the overall situation and development scenario in the state.

The Chief Minister informed the High Commissioner the situation in the state was almost normal with political activity and development works going on in full swing across Jammu and Kashmir.

The Chief Minister said the past two years in the state had been the best in terms of lowest number of killings and incidents of violence. He said human rights violations had been brought down to negligible number while no custodial disappearance was reported during the last year and the current year till date.

Mr Azad said political activities had picked up across Jammu and Kashmir and although the date for election was not announced yet and summer had just set in, as many as 1670 public meetings had been held by various political parties in the last few months throughout the state.

He said all political parties were active and keen to fight the coming Assembly election with the people wanting to participate in the electoral process in a major way.

Mr Azad said seeing the mood of the people, he expected a massive voter turnout in the elections in the state.

He said people's participation in the election was more important than which party came to power.

The Chief Minister reiterated his assurance of free and fair elections to the state Legislative Assembly. He said his commitment to free and fair elections was amply demonstrated during the four byelections held in the state after he became the Chief Minister.

There was not a single complaint of electoral malpractice during these byelections, he said, adding he stood by his commitment and urged those parties and groups who were shying away from the election on the pretext that it might not be free and fair, to come forward and participate in the electoral process.

The British High Commissioner evinced keen interest in the political and development activities in Jammu and Kashmir. He described his maiden visit to the Valley as ''very good'', adding that he was warmly received here.

He said, he had come here to learn about the state and how things were progressing in the state ''would like to visit the valley again,'' Mr Stagg said.


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