Expressing disappointment over abrupt cancellation of bilateral meeting between National Security Advisors (NSA) of India and Pakistan, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed hoped that break in talks would be temporary and the thaw achieved at Ufa, where Prime Ministers of the two countries met and exhibited great camaraderie will not be allowed to go waste.
He pinned hope that the two neighbours will reengage soon in a meaningful dialogue and steps taken by New Delhi to remove impediments in normalization of relations will be reciprocated by Islamabad.
The chief minister said this after talks between NSAs of India and Pakistan were called off late on Saturday night.
Mufti Sayeed said for a sensitive border state like J&K, peace and stability on both the internal and the external fronts, are of critical significance to normalcy, stability and development. He said from this perspective, last-minute cancellation of the NSA-level bilateral meeting between our country and Pakistan is a great disappointment.
"Escalation of firing along the Line of Control (LoC), coupled with incidents of terrorism, are matters of serious concern to us here, as much as they are in the rest of the country," he stated.
Asserting that Indo-Pak relationship over the years has become multi-dimensional and multi-lateral with each sphere dealing with specified issues like trade, travel, CBMs, diplomatic and political matters, the chief minister said it is neither warranted nor desirable to insist upon all-inclusive participation, directly or indirectly, in each and every bilateral meeting, like that between the two NSAs.
Stating that he wants to see both the countries walk the bridge of trust together, Mufti Sayeed urged Pakistan to respond to New Delhi's warm gesture to engage in a meaningful dialogue so that hopes and expectations of the larger constituency of peace are addressed.
"We wish that the hostilities between the two countries end so that people, who have suffered due to prolonged confrontation, live together as peaceful neighbours," he said while describing dialogue as the only way forward to restore peace and stability in the region.
Describing J&K as a major loser due to Indo-Pak freeze, Mufti Sayeed said the state has been the worst casualty of continued confrontation and terrorism. "We will continue to work for fulfilling the wishes and aspirations of the people. We have promised a clean and accountable administration that works to bring in development in the state. J&K and its people cannot afford to bear huge losses resulting from continued instability in the region," he stated.
Referring to his historic decision to start cross-LoC trade and travel in 2005 which most people at that time believed as something unthinkable, the chief minister said he took a lead in taking similar Confidence Building Measures (CBMSs) to entrench peace and stability in the region. "Cross-LoC trade and travel is the biggest CBM that has yielded rich dividends and is being widely acknowledged across the board," he added.
Mufti Sayeed said his government in the state is firmly committed to provide space for a healthy debate across the political spectrum. "Our action speaks for itself. We have never sought to curb freedom of expression, nor curtail civil liberties of citizens, so long as the recognized rules are observed and there is no attempt to cause disruption in peace," he added.