Kashmiri Leaders Welcome CBMs Announced By India, Pak

Srinagar, July 27: Most of the pro-Indian and separatist leaders have welcomed the new measures announced by arch rivals India and Pakistan to give boost to cross-border trade and travel.

The moderate Kashmiri separatist leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq welcomed the CBMs announced by the two countries with regard to cross-Loc trade and travel. He, however, stressed the need for implementing the suggestions made by the conglomerate for improving the ground situation in Kashmir. “We welcome the CBMs but we believe that focus on demilitarisation, revocation of harsh laws like AFSPA and PSA, end to violation of human rights and release of political prisoners will have larger impact on the ground situation,” he said.

However, senior Kashmiri leader leader, Syed Ali Geelani said CBMs would only be a superficial measure till the core issue of Kashmir was not addressed.

“These are not the main issues. The basic issue is resolution of the Kashmir issue and it needs to be addressed in its historical perspective,” he said.

The Chief Minister of Kashmir Omar Abdullah while welcoming the CBMS described the fresh initiatives as a “good step”.

The Law Minister of the region Ali Muhammad Sagar hoped the dialogue process between India and Pakistan would continue.

“The better relations between India and Pakistan were always in the interests of people of Kashmir. The dialogue has started on a good note. Now there is a need to sustain it so that all issues including Kashmir are resolved amicably,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Congress Committee chief and Member Parliament Saifudin Soz said announcement of the CBMs by the two countries was a long pending wish of civil society in the two countries.

“During my visit to Pakistan, I felt that the civil society members there were yearning for the CBMs; same was the case in India. After my visit to Pakistan, I conveyed the feelings of Pakistan civil society members to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram,” he said.

Soz said he was confident that the two nations would announce more CBMs in near future.

The main opposition leader in Kashmir and former chief minister of the region Mufti Mohammad Sayed said the measures announced are another step towards making the state an Economic Free Zone (EFC).

He said the measures announced in the joint statement indicate a significant progress in carrying forward the peace process and building of trust between the two neighbors that is important for finding a lasting solution to Kashmir.

“The vision of a tension free South Asia will receive a boost with the concrete measures announced especially with regard to the cross LoC travel and trade,” he said adding expanding the facility of LoC travel to citizens other than the divided families is of particular importance in lifting the siege around the state that had felt choked by an iron curtain around it after the events of 1947.

He said it will not only promote intra Kashmir tourism but will hugely contribute to reunion of the people of a state that had found itself a victim of circumstances not of its own making.

Mufti said more routes will soon have to be opened especially Kargil-Skardu road that will connect Ladakh region also with people across the LoC. “The decisions to relax the procedure regarding permit and travel documents under the new arrangement was expected to reduce hassles but stressed its follow up needed to be streamlined,” he said.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.