The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mufti firm on shutting out Pak

Hyderabad, Jan. 22: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today ruled out Pakistan’s interference in any talks between Kashmiris and the Indian government.

The People’s Democratic Party chief told reporters here that the situation in Kashmir was of an “international dimension” that needed to be sorted out between the central government and the people of Kashmir and Pakistan has “no role”.

Mufti, who is on a whistle-stop tour of India to attract investors to his state, said he and his delegation are out to wipe out the image that “Kashmir is a troubled land”. “I want to counter all rumours that the people preferred azadi and that many preferred to go to Pakistan,” he asserted.

Asked about the demand for autonomy as well as the RSS call for trifurcating the state, Mufti emphasised that Kashmir symbolised India’s secularism. “If this chhota secular India is damaged, it will wipe out the confidence of the people that there could be peace and tranquillity ever in the Valley,” he said.

The Kashmir delegation, which includes deputy chief minister Mangat Ram Sharma and state officials, has already been to Maharashtra, where it held talks with corporate bosses as well as Bollywood bigwigs.

Here, in the Andhra Pradesh capital, Mufti is courting IT entrepreneurs and investments in the field of biotechnology to explore Kashmir’s natural wealth. He leaves for Bangalore tomorrow.

Earlier, addressing CII members at a luncheon, Mufti said the areas of high potential in his state were information technology, biotechnology, horticulture, floriculture and agriculture in the Kashmir Valley while there was scope for big industries in the Jammu region.

Mufti had a breakfast meeting with his Andhra counterpart N. Chandrababu Naidu, who, he said, had a major virtue — “accountability”. “He (Naidu) has become a role model for accountability,” the chief minister said.

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