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Farooq hails Pak PM’s ‘peace statements’

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Says plans to take over J&K Bank have been in pipeline for long  

Srinagar, Dec 05: Welcoming the “positive approach” of Pakistan’s leadership on resolving long-pending issues with government of India, National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said it has rekindled hopes for peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking at the annual day celebrations of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) at SKICC here, Farooq Abdullah said that the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent assertions on Indo-Pak bonhomie has rekindled the hope that a day will come when the people of Jammu & Kashmir will live in a free atmosphere.

“I see a change between the Indian and Pakistani leaders…I am quite confident that time has come and that is why probably God has kept me alive to see solution emerging to this problem of our state and I hope we have peace which we all want,” he said.

Abdullah said that he wanted to walk freely without any security in the Valley.

“I want to walk freely without any security. My daughters and my friends and my colleagues and people in this state could work without any tragedy. I hope it will happen and I hope you all will pray for this that we have that situation,” said Abdullah.

His comments come two days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who completed 100 days as premier last week, said his government enjoys unwavering support of the armed forces, an influential player in the country's politics, particularly on matters of foreign policy.

Last week, Khan said his government, the army and all political parties in Pakistan are on the same page on improving ties with India. He, however, did not mention “cross-border terrorism” — which India has stressed is as a stumbling block in resuming talks between the two sides.

India and Pakistan last month laid the foundation stones, on their respective sides, to open a corridor to facilitate Sikh pilgrims in visiting gurdwaras on either side. It signalled a possible move to mend ties that had nosedived over terrorist attacks in India by Pakistan-based groups.

"I wish that day comes when the two neighbouring countries of India and Pakistan live in camaraderie," Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said.

Dr Farooq also asserted that only democratically-elected government will advance the cause of development and will work for the socio-economic emancipation of the underprivileged.

“I look forward to elections for the state assembly at an earliest. Only a popular government can mitigate the mounting woes of the people. And it is the duty of people to elect honest people to the legislature,” he said.

Expressing his dismay over the attack on the secular visage of India, the NC president said "many powers that are inimical to the secular character of India are making bigoted attempts to polarize people on religious lines to garner support. This, I believe, is dangerous for a country like India which belongs to all."

He said people want answers for all those "fanciful promises" that were made by the BJP.

"People cannot forget the ordeal that they had to undergo due to demonetization. Small businessmen and small enterprise holders too are at the receiving end due to the promulgation of GST," he said.

On the recent controversy over the J&K Bank, Abdullah said that the moves to take over the institution have been in pipeline for a long time.

“The moves to take over the J&K Bank have been in pipeline for a long time. They haven’t succeeded till then but probably in the governor’s rule they thought they will succeed,” said Abdullah while talking to the reporters on the sidelines of a function.

“I think there was a design long time earlier when I was the CM and J&K Bank was working well. I remember then I was in the office of Home Minister L K Advani along with deputy chairman planning commission and they were saying the bank is not good, it is going down, and it should be taken over,” claimed Abdullah.

Luckily, he said, a daily from Mumbai had published a complete report on this bank and showed how good it was.

“I sent those reports to them and I am glad that the deputy chairman planning commission spoke to me on the phone and said his information was wrong,” he said.

Abdullah also said that the autonomy of the bank should not be fiddled with.

“But any government that will come after governor’s rule is over will have to look into this. Nothing should be done to the autonomy of J&K Bank,” he said.

Earlier applauding the professionalism and efforts of doctors of SKIMS, Abdullah said the institute should take lead in research.

"It is the shared effort of people who run this institution that will make it great. The other day I read that the research being done in India is not of good quality. SKIMS should take a lead in research and come up with cure for many diseases that are a source of agony for people. The institute should find cure for diseases like diabetes and cancer. It will earn laurels for the institute," he said.

Abdullah, who is Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, allocated Rs one crore for construction of auditorium at SKIMS from his constituency development fund.

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