The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is fighting polls in Kashmir border areas of Gurez and Kargil constituencies with the promise of connecting it to the outside world --- including Pakistan, China and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) --- through traditional Silk Route.
The party top-notch, including PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, on Wednesday announced mandate for the border seats of Kargil in Ladakh region and Gurez north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, going for polls in the first phase on November 25.
Muhammad Ismail Lone will contest from Gurez and Haji Inayat Ali from Kargil.
Ali comes from Kargil’s influential seminary Islamia School, traditionally backing the National Conference. Ali, who continues to hold an official position of youth wing in-charge of the seminary, has come as a major shot in the arm for the PDP.
“Both Kargil and Gurez remain landlocked. Our main poll plank will be restoring the connectivity not only to other parts of the state but to the outside world,” PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar told the Hindustan Times.
He said the PDP’s election promise will be connecting Kargil with with Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK and Gurez with Skardu, across the border.
“Gurez is home to the distinct tribe of Dard. Around two lakh Dards are left across the globe. We want to help them retain their identity and, at the same time, connect with other parts of the state round the year. There is huge migration from the area,” said Akhtar.
The opening of the Skardu route will help people of Gurez to reach to the Central Asia and China.
“We will also focus on negative impact of the Kishen Ganga power project on Gurez and seek solutions from ecological and connectivity points,” he added.
For Kargil, tourism, horticulture and the Zojila Tunnel, which will connect the region with the valley round the year, will be the party’s poll plank.
“Kargil houses green belts in Suru, deserts in Zanskar and huge Buddha statues. We will help tap the tourism potential. It’s a bowl of apricot crop and will work on local employment generation,” said Akhtar.
The PDP has never won a seat from Gurez or Kargil in the past and is trying hard to make inroads in these areas, traditionally favouring the NC and Congress.