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Mufti fires first salvo at Islamabad

Jammu, Nov. 3: For the first time since assuming office, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today did some tough talking against Pakistan, accusing it of obstructing the peace process.

Referring to Pakistan’s conditions for starting a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad — that the United Nations monitor the border and passengers travel with UN documents — Mufti said this was unacceptable. He said he wanted Pakistan to realise the human aspect of the proposal— hundreds of families are divided on both sides of the Line of Control and there is a deep yearning for a reunion.

The chief minister, who was talking to reporters on a day government offices opened in the winter capital, said Pakistan would have to shun its rigidity to respond positively to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir under its control.

Positioning himself as the champion of better ties between the neighbours, Mufti hailed the coordination group for dialogue with separatists set up by the Centre as a big achievement.

“It was a great success of our government,” the chief minister said, adding that it demonstrates the seriousness of the dialogue process which is bound to move ahead.

Urging militants to drop the gun and stop killing innocents, Mufti asked them to give peace a chance.

When the Centre has come forward to hold talks to address the internal and external dimensions of the Kashmir imbroglio, militants have no cause to resort to violence, he added.

Mufti said the people were happy with the coalition government’s performance in the one year it has been in office and added that the situation in the rebellion-racked Valley was much relaxed.

Tourism has picked up tremendously, he said, providing livelihood to lakhs of people. The number of tourists this year has already touched 1.8 lakh.

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