Jammu and Kashmir’s political groups have handed over a challenging agenda to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for his Pakistan visit beginning in the coming weekend.
All political groups have spoken of the need to have better ties with Pakistan, calling it as an escapable challenge of the situation and that is not possible unless there are footprints of progress on Kashmir issue, in the fields of politics, diplomacy and economy.
The visit of external affairs minister in itself is important. But it has the potential of turning extraordinary, if the Kashmir related issues are taken beyond the opening of more cross-border routes, trade and tourism.
"I am confident that Pranab Mukherjee’s Pakistan visit will be successful," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told Hindustan Times. He has already done away with many of the subjects , which were considered political blasphemy in mainstream politics. That has taken steam out of the separatist politics, which survives in hailing everything coming from Pakistan , and, at the same time, it has rebuffed the nationalist voices calling for no business with Pakistan.
Azad has made it clear that there was a "need to seriously consider proposals of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Kashmir.” He has asked that troops return to barracks` from their internal security duties was possible once infiltration stops and militancy is over. This equips Mukherjee with ready made answers to the questions of Pakistan.
As far as Indian initiatives on Kashmir are concerned, Azad has called for joint management in tourism, trade, culture and power and water. That his vision has the backing of all the groups in Jammu and Kashmir became evident the way National Conference, PDP and others spoke on the similar lines.
The father- daughter duo - former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti – have been the votaries of the line that economic integration of the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir can take place without challenging the political sovereignty of either India or Pakistan on their respective territories. It was amplified with greater details during their meeting with External Affairs Minister.
Mukherjee’s peace initiative armoury has started overflowing.
National Conference has suggested special economic zone for Jammu and Kashmir. Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and his son and party president Omar Abdullah have argued the autonomy on either side of the LoC can bring down curtains on the whole set of trouble.
Kashmiris have defined their agenda, now it would be for the external affairs minister, feel the political groups here, to floor his hosts in Islamabad with these peace initiatives.
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