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In a KP function, Mehbooba urges PM to talk to Pak

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CM reaches out to KPs, urges them to heed motherland’s call and come back

In a KP function, Mehbooba urges PM to talk to Pak

Says "key for peace" in Kashmir lies with neighbouring country

New Delhi, Mar 31: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate a dialogue process with Pakistan at the earliest as the "key for peace" was with the neighbouring country.

Addressing a gathering of Kashmiri Pandits here today, the Chief Minister said given the tough times Jammu & Kashmir is passing through it needs the reconciliatory approach at all levels to sort out issues as acrimony does not lead anywhere.

She said wars, as in the past, are no solution to any problem given the quantum of destruction these are supposed to bring.

"Reconciliation is the mantra which we need to follow and therefore, I request Modi-ji to engage with Pakistan," she said.

"We need to take an assurance from the neighbouring country that they should not be allowing their soil to be used against India. After all, we all know that the key for peace is in Pakistan. They have been pushing terrorists into the state," she said.

The Chief Minister said that efforts should be made for changing the slogan of "Azadi" in the Kashmir Valley.

"This can be achieved. Why can't Jammu and Kashmir be a gateway to the central Asian countries?

"If the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is a possibility, so can be this. If new roads are opened, the slogan of ‘Azadi’ will automatically change," she said at a gathering of around 200 Kashmiri Pandits, who had to leave their homes after the onset of the militancy in 1990.

The policy of rapprochement, the Chief Minister said, as adopted by the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee needs to be kept alive and taken forward.

Reconciliation, and not acrimony, is the way ahead, she said while advocating opening of historic routes across Jammu & Kashmir so that the State becomes a gateway to Central Asia as it used to be in the past.

“An idea has to be replaced with a better idea. Why can’t the Sharda Peth, which has been an ancient seat of learning, be thrown open to people? Why can’t our country, using our locational advantage, take benefit of all economic activities going on in the region to embark on a new path of progress, equity  and peace? Wars and acrimony only add up scars but the peaceful engagements bring home the much needed healing,” she said.

She advised people not to watch debates on television channels which only foment hatred between the two warring nations as well as the Muslims of Kashmir and the rest of the country.

"Those, sitting in studios and pontificating the nation, are only interested in the TRP ratings and not finding solution to the problem.

"Many a times I wonder who are these people who talk so much on television. Are they even aware of the ground realities," she said.

Mufti said that every second day daggers are out and a war hysteria is created.

"If a war had to happen, it would have happened in 2001 when the armies of the two nation were in an eye-ball-to-eye ball situation for over a year," she said.

"War (between India and Pakistan) will not happen. After the attack on Parliament in 2001, the armies of both the countries (India and Pakistan) were deployed along borders for a year, if the war did not take place back then, it will not take place now as both the nations know it will be disastrous (for both)," she said.

This is for the first time since their migration some three decades ago, the Chief Minister conducted an outreach programme of this kind at New Delhi to listen to the problems of Kashmiri Pandit migrants at their own place, an official press release issued in this regard said.

She also appealed for a reconciliation between the Kashmiri Muslims and Pandit community.

"I know you people had to leave your homes under difficult situations. You people have suffered but so have those who are there in Kashmir. “Don’t wait for the return of ideal conditions, we have to create these jointly,” she told the gathering.

“Your Muslim brethren are fighting a situation there, come back and let us fight shoulder to shoulder.”

Describing the plea for their return back to Kashmir as a “call from motherland”, Mehbooba Mufti told the gathering to respond to it as someone who responds to the cries of her mother in pain.

“You may say that many of you are now settled outside, some of them with good corporate packages. But I would say it’s a call from your motherland - Mouj Kashir- who asks you to come back and help in restoring back the social order which got disturbed with your unfortunate migration,” she told the gathering while making an emotional appeal for their return.

"The gift of education has helped you (Pandits) in making a name for yourself but those in Kashmir are still trying to live a peaceful life," the Chief Minister said and made an appeal to Kashmiri Pandits to visit the Valley.

"The Valley is incomplete without you. To begin with, please come as tourists and later if you feel so, you are most welcome to go back to your homes and stay there.

“I am not assuring you a roller coaster ride. Difficulties will be there but we together have to face these difficulties. Please do not wait for the last gun to fall silent," she said.

The Chief Minister also apologised to the Kashmiri Pandits for delay in resolving their issues.

The Chief Minister said that though the successive governments in Jammu & Kashmir did a lot for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit migrant community but it cannot match the return back to their homes and hearths which she said is the earnest desire of every Kashmiri Muslim.

She said her government, acknowledging the role of   Kashmiri Pandit families who stayed  in Kashmir but got forgotten in the discourse, decided to reserve some posts for them in recruitment process so that they don’t feel left-out.

Responding to the demands raised by several members of the community, Mehbooba Mufti said she would get the issues of difficulty in registration of migrants and their state-subject issues looked into and if need be post an officer at New Delhi for the purpose.

She also assured to look into the issues of medical insurance, hike in monthly relief and distant posting of some female staff at JK Bank, New Delhi.

The Chief Minister invited the young children of Kashmiri Pandits to visit Kashmir so that they can get familiarised with the land they belong to and where their parents were born and brought up. She said whatever arrangements need to be done would be made by her government.

Former Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly and PDP vice-president, Muhammad Sartaj Madni also addressed the gathering and recalled the cherished relations between Muslims and Pandits in Kashmir.

He also highlighted the need for frequent interactions between the members of two communities so that the bond of amity is shifted to younger generation.

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