Interacting with a delegation from Muzaffrabad, capital town of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK), Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday stressed the need for opening more historic routes along Line of Control (LOC) in the state to facilitate people’s movement. Connecting people and regions with more routes and other positive activities is her mission, she told the delegation.

Mehbooba said dialogue, reconciliation and economic development in the whole region would bring an end to violence, acrimony and most of all miseries of people in the state. She added that she has been demanding opening of all historic routes across LoC which can get the state on the threshold of prosperity and economic affluence besides sending across the message of peace, coexistence and amity between India and Pakistan.

She said it was unfortunate that violence and acrimony has taken over the discourse between the two countries due to which activity on these positive ideas has slowed down. She, however, exuded optimism that this negativity would ultimately fade and these positive initiatives would take centre stage.  She said the present phase of these Confidence Building Measuress needs to be taken to next higher level where the points of convergence between the two people become much more pronounced and the lines dividing them become irrelevant forever.

The Chief Minister stressed on frequent cultural exchanges between youth, institutions, groups and communities on the two sides of LoC adding  that cultural exchanges have proved instrumental in bringing people and societies closer.

Mehbooba said she would like the new generation to take a lead in this. “If we open up educational institutes for each other’s students where they can benefit from the facilities and advancements made so far, it would help a great deal”, she said. Besides, she flagged areas like tourism, disaster management, agriculture, climate change etc where expertise and difficulties can be exchanged to achieve better results.

Mehbooba informed the visiting delegation that Shardha Peeth, on the other side of LoC, is not only a sacred place for Kashmiri Pandits but represents our collective ethos and pluralistic society of the state. She favoured visits to the place by members of Kashmiri Pandit community, thereby opening a new chapter of pilgrimage tourism among the two people across the LoC.

The delegation shared with the Chief Minister their observations about the opening of routes across LoC and the consequent facilitation it has brought to travellers, particularly members of divided families living on the two sides of the divide.

Members of the delegation informed Mehbooba that the opening of travel and trade routes between the two parts of the state has provided more contacts at the people’s level which has led to their emotional integration paving the way for lowering down of acrimony, violence and ill will between them. “The re-opening of these historic routes in the state has been able to restore, to some extent, the social fabric across the state”, the delegation told the Chief Minister while seeking more progress on these positive interventions.