NEW DELHI: Reiterating its commitment to make the line of control irrelevant, India has suggested to Pakistan to open Srinagar-Muzafarabad route for trade from October 1 and expressed willingness to open new routes to give boost to the cross border trade. “Our proposal for opening the LoC trade from October 1 has been forwarded to Pakistan and we are awaiting their response. Other necessary steps will be followed up as soon as we receive their (Pakistan’s) response”, External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said in an interview with the All India Radio tonight.
Asked whether the recent political upheaval (in Jammu and Kashmir) forced the government to immediately take up the issue of opening of the Srinagar-Muzafarabad route for trade purpose, Mukherjee said “it had nothing to do with the contemporary events”. Talks on this proposal were going on for quite some time.
Without elaborating fresh proposal to open new routes, the minister said “we are also thinking of the new routes” as a confidence building measure. The minister, who played an important role in ending the crisis with the Amarnath Sangrash Samiti on law row, claimed that composite dialogue between India and Pakistan had resumed. The two countries have so far had four rounds of talks. The fifth round has begun with the foreign secretary’s visit. “I do hope the fifth round of composite dialogue will also be concluded successfully.”
Referring to the political unrest in Pakistan, he said India wants peace, stability and development in “all our neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.” Mukherjee favoured resumption of talks with the Kashmiri separatist and Hurriyat leaders, but added it is for the governor and the home ministry to decide whom to invite. ‘Who will come and who will not come that I cannot decide. This is an area where home ministry is dealing with and it is essentially between the political parties of Jammu and Kashmir, besides governor.” If they require the support from the central government, it will extend full assistance.
On holding of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the minister said that “I would not make any value judgment because it is essentially the domain of the Election Commission. It has to make the assessment by talking to the people concerned whether there is a situation conducive to hold the election or not.
The Indian government has also proposed to Pakistan “triple entry permit” for members of the divided families of Jammu and Kashmir and joint projects in tourism, environment and forestry sectors in the two parts to give boost to the peace process and to ease people’s problems caused by the divide.“Automatic permit for senior citizens as well as strengthening of cultural interaction across the line of control are other confidence building measures proposed to the Pakistan government”, highly placed government sources said. “We have been pursuing these issues for quite some time. However, there was no positive response from the other side”, the sources said. The matter is still being pursued. Referring to beginning of truck service across the LoC, the sources said that lists of commodities have been exchanged by the two sides. There has been some forward movement.-SANA