The state's main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday expressed disappointment over "Kashmir being left out" in fresh Indo-Pak confidence building measures signed in Islamabad yesterday.
"Jammu and Kashmir should be the first to benefit from Indo-Pak reconciliation since it's the place that suffered the most due to the animosity and hostility between the two nations. However, it seems Kashmir has been edged out and left out in the CBMs signed," said Mehbooba in Srinagar.
Mehbooba's statement came in the backdrop of Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers easing visa regime, allowing tourism and trade with less restriction and easy movement of senior citizens between the two countries.
These CBMs were agreed upon by the two countries in Islamabad on Saturday. But no major decision was taken on Kashmir.
"Why the steps like allowing movement of people, besides relatives, are not being extended to routes in Kashmir, which connects with the other Kashmir? When Wagah can open for trade, tourism etc, then why not Kashmir routes?" asked Mehbooba.
Threatening to start an agitation against the two countries "ignoring" Kashmir, Mehbooba said, "This will further deepen the sense of alienation."
The PDP president claimed that the peace process started between the two countries in 2003 "created a positive atmosphere in the state".
"The reconciliation between the two nations started in Kashmir in 2003 with the opening of roads and ceasefire. These evolutionary steps taken without any working groups and interlocutors changed ground situation in Kashmir," said Mehbooba.
She said that the Kashmir-centric CBMs agreed between the two countries last year should be implemented to sustain positive atmosphere in the state.
"Kargil-Skardu road, expansion of travel facility to people besides divided families, banking facility for traders on the both sides of the Line of Control were agreed upon last time and the same should be implemented," said Mehbooba adding, "instead the trade has been left in a limbo."
Mehbooba expressed apprehension over the two countries "trying to end the process of trade and travel between two parts of Kashmir". "They want to move back instead of moving ahead," she said.
Mehbooba said Kashmir can act as bridge and cement relations between India and Pakistan. "But J-K should be first to reap benefits of the reconciliation between the two for everlasting relationship…The Prime Minister is committed to make borders irrelevant here but, unfortunately, that process is restricted to Wagah only," she said.
The PDP President claimed that situation is deteriorating in Kashmir with juveniles and old leaders being put behind the bars by the present dispensation.