Pitches for promoting Kashmir as ‘Gateway to Central Asia’
Her alliance with a right-wing party may not have given her enough freedom in the past year or so to speak up about the PDP’s core political creed, but Mehbooba Mufti, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, on Saturday gave short shrift to the sensitivities of her alliance partner, the BJP, saying the revival of Kashmir’s cultural and trade links with Central Asia was a way to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Mufti spoke to the media persons at Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) where she had gone to address a conclave of businessmen organised by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It is not impossible to revive these routes even though our geopolitical situation is not conducive enough. The way opening the Muzaffarbad road used to seem impossible but this task was achieved finally. Similarly, I feel in days to come when we are working towards finding a way-out for the resolution of the issue of Kashmir issue, opening-up of such routes have an important role to play,” said Mufti. She said promoting Kashmir as “Gateway of Central Asia” has been a priority for her government.
“I see this as a beginning of the establishment of Jammu and Kashmir as a major international trading centre. It has been our dream and effort to open-up J&K to rest of the world for trade through land routes but because of the current geo-political situation, it has not been possible to make much headway in the direction,” she said.
She urged a delegate from Turkey to help in re-establishing old historical and cultural ties between Kashmir and Central Asia. “It is my firm belief that someday soon J&K will be able to realise its full potential of its geo-strategic location for its economic development as part of a peaceful region and we will continue to strive for the opening-up of the old Silk Route.”
She went on to say that buyers from Central Asian countries are helping to, “infuse new life into exchange of technology which dates back to the glorious silk route tradition.”
“I am sure you will spend next two days of your time very gainfully and are able to generate substantial business from this place which has been a victim of deliberate attempts of creating negativity. Your presence here is also a good omen for our forthcoming tourist season and I am sure you will go back as our ambassadors in the international trading community,” said Mufti.