Minister for Finance, Planning and Law, Tariq Hameed Karra has asked terrorists to shun violence and gun and join the reconciliation process and he also appealed to the youth to come forward and represent the State's young population on the democratic platforms.
"As the State is at the cross-roads of a historic opportunity for peace and prosperity, it is the appropriate time for our youth to take the leap and drive the State's politics in a new positive direction," he said.
Addressing the Republic Day function in Baramulla on Friday, Karra said J&K's youth have a grand opportunity at hand to contribute towards the political and economic development of the State in the emerging scenario.
He said the youth must take politics as a full-time career and actively participate in democratic processes to have an assertive say in the matters of governance. "We have to struggle for our rights in a democratic way and that objective can be achieved only through the participation of the people, especially the youth, in the democratic processes," he said.
Urging the local gun-wielding boys to shun the path of violence and join the reconciliation process for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, Karra said the people of the State have suffered immensely due to the turmoil and can't afford more bloodshed. "I urge the local militants to ponder over what has the gun given to us except death, destruction and miseries," he said and added that the violence has burdened the State with a huge population of orphans, widows and destitute giving rise to various social issues. "Instead of adding to their numbers by continuing the violence, the gun wielding boys should now channelise their energies towards the rehabilitation of the sufferers of violence," he said.
Karra said despite hiccups and roadblocks, the Indo-Pak peace process is slowly but steadily edging forward and the winds of globalisation and economic cooperation are sure to sweep the region, sooner than later. He said a great deal of credit for sustaining the peace process goes to the civil society that has played an indispensable role in promoting initiatives, reducing tensions, and coming up with useful alternatives to calm dangerous situations. The people of Jammu & Kashmir, he said are the biggest stake-holders in the success of the peace process as they have suffered immensely.
Outlining "peace through development" as the mantra of the Coalition Government, Karra said for the people of Jammu & Kashmir, peace in the sub-continent would mark a new beginning for a future that is free of discord and tensions. "We shall have no hesitation in accepting the measures that are progressive in nature, in conformity with the needs of progress of the State and in line with the history and cultural contours of Jammu & Kashmir," he said and added that the time has come to replace the present atmosphere of armed confrontation with trust and slowly remove the dependence on the security forces in the matters of internal security.
Karra said there has to be a greater role for the instruments of the State administration in the matters of governance and security. "That is of fundamental importance to allow the democratic institutions in the State to flourish," he said and added that the feeling of siege of the people of the State has to be addressed.
"Development of rail, road and air connectivity would definitely lead to a more outward looking attitude among the people and opportunities of growth would multiply," he said and added that, at the same time, opening of all the traditional cross-LoC routes has to be speeded up and these roads need to be thrown open for free movement of people and goods.
Karra called for the involvement of the elected legislators from both sides of Jammu and Kashmir to evolve the institutional mechanism in areas of trade, tourism, culture, environment, education, disaster management and healthcare to push the confidence building measures ahead and give them the much-needed legitimacy. This, he said can be achieved by constituting consultative committees of legislators from both sides to dwell on specific areas of cooperation.
Jammu & Kashmir, Karra said is trying to come out of the difficult times and it has to catch-up with the rest of the country in economic development, where we have remained stagnant due to the turmoil. He said during the past four years of the Coalition rule huge financial resources have been pumped into the State to build infrastructure in various sectors.
"From a meager Rs 1900 crore in 2002-2003, the annual plan shot up to Rs 4347 crore in 2006-07 and the total expenditure projected in my budget for the year 2007-08 is a whopping Rs 16267 crore," he said and added that there has been a phenomenal increase in the district plans between 2002-03 and 2006-07 registering a growth of around 56 per cent.
Karra said the areas of immediate concern for the State are security, infrastructure deficit in critical social sectors (education, health & road connectivity), power shortage and unemployment. "Keeping these concerns in view my focus in the recent budget has been creation of employment opportunities for educated unemployed through various hassle-free schemes," he said and added that for the first time, the State Government has earmarked Rs 100 crore as venture capital for financing self-employment schemes for the educated unemployed. He said a special scheme has also been devised for generation of employment opportunities for educated girls.
Earlier, the finance minister took salute at the Republic Day parade and also witnessed a colorful cultural program presented on the occasion. Senior civil and police officers, prominent citizens and a large number of people were present to witness the parade.