Mehbooba felicitates Zardari

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Srinagar, Sep 6 (UNI) Felicitating Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari on being elected the new President of Pakistan, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti today said with stability returning to Pakistan, the Indo-Pak peace process for the resolution of the Kashmir issue must now gain momentum.

''I hope the historic peace initiative taken by Atal Behari Vajpayee and Gen Parvez Musharraf would be strengthened and made fruitful by Dr Manmohan Singh and Asif Ali Zardari now,'' Ms Mufti said in a statement today.

She expressed the hope that the election of Asif Ali Zardari as the President of Pakistan would not only bring the much-needed political stability to that country, but it would also reinforce the confidence building process with the Government of India to peacefully resolve the Kashmir issue and bring permanent peace and stability to the region.

''Mr Zardari has already committed himself to the peace process with India and I am sure, leadership of both the countries would now work towards time-bound implementation of Jammu and Kashmir-specific confidence building measures to amicably settle the Kashmir issue,'' she said and cautioned that any dallying tactics would only add the growing disillusionment of Kashmiris with the peace process, which would not be in the interest of both the countries.

Welcoming the Pakistan Foreign Ministry's offer of talks to their Indian counterparts for early operationalisation of cross-LoC intra-Kashmir trade, Ms Mufti said both the governments must make the Srinagar-Muzafarabad road operational for trade by October 1 this year as has already been suggested by the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

''I hope there will be no further impediments in the resumption of trade through Srinagar-Muzafarabad road as the people of Jammu and Kashmir want it,'' she said and added that similar facility should be then extended to all other traditional cross-LoC routes including Poonch-Rawalakote, Suchetgarh-Sialkote and Kargil-Skardu roads.

Ms Mufti also urged both the countries to make the Srinagar-Muzafarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote bus services more frequent and ensure hassle-free travel as the present system is too tedious for the travelers.

UNI BAS BDP AS1808

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