Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Thursday said the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) can realise its full potential only if pestering issues between India and Pakistan are settled amicably and stressed it can play a role in the resolution process.
"Saarc leadership has to recognise the fact that the forum couldn't take off effectively since its inception in 1985 because of the unresolved issues between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir issue," said Mufti while addressing public meetings in south Kashmir's Homshalibugh and Anantnag assembly segments.
The former union minister said the ongoing elections offer a historic opportunity to people of the state to send a strong message to the national leadership about their urge for peace and reconciliation between the two countries.
"It could facilitate resolution and enduring peace. A strong and inclusive mandate to PDP would enable it channelise this urge effectively and revive the initiatives of 2003," he said.
Mufti said that it is not only if issues between India and Pakistan are resolved, Saarc can realise its full potential of ensuring larger economic cooperation in the region as and when Kashmir is settled amicably.
"In another way, the forum can provide a space for the resolution of issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir," he said.
The PDP patron said the political aspect of the issues between India and Pakistan would be easier to address if the economic space created in Saarc paradigm is ensured for a potentially rich place like Jammu and Kashmir.
"It is time that Jammu and Kashmir is brought out of the troubles that are not of its own making and its connectivity with the rest of the world is restored through traditional routes," he said.
Mufti claimed that the pain of the people has reached to a level where the hope of peace is sure to gain substantial local support.
"The encouraging participation of people in the ongoing polls should not be misconstrued as the problem having disappeared without addressing it," he warned.
He called for speeding up and expanding the Indo-Pak peace process to find substantial solution to the problem.
"PDP visualises a space of dignity, opportunity and prosperity for the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the paradigm of friendship and cooperative relationship between India and Pakistan," he said.
"The party's will work hand-in-hand with the progressive and democratic forces in the country and the region to facilitate dignified resolution of the Kashmir issue," he added.