The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti has welcomed the Prime Minister designate, Narendra Modi’s decision to invite SAARC leaders including Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony on May 26.
In a statement she said this is a positive beginning that would generate hope among the people belonging to the large peace constituency in South Asia. “It is encouraging to see Modi reaching out to his neighbors at the very beginning of his tenure as the Prime Minister. He has actually sent out an encouraging signal that he is serious to follow the Atal Bihari Vajpayee initiatives of friendship towards Pakistan,” said Mehbooba.
Expressing hope that the Pakistan Prime Minister who already has extended invitation to Modi to visit his country would respond positively to the invite, Mehbooba said Jammu and Kashmir looked up with renewed hope to a new beginning on resolution of Kashmir. She said Nawaz Sharif has already been part of a significant initiative on Indo Pak front when he hosted Vajpayee in Lahore and should now respond positively to the Modi invite as also the loud clamor for peace in his own country that is facing tremendous problems of violence.
Mehbooba said Pakistan and Kashmir have historically been the two major challenges that all prime ministers have faced and it augurs well that Modi has recognized the importance of Pakistan as a neighbor at the outset and had set the ball rolling for a meaningful engagement. This she said, should not remain confined to cosmetics of an inaugural ceremony but must result in solid progress on the ground. She said the J&K specific CBMS between the two countries have to be strengthened and taken to next level by widening the scope of cross Line-of-Control (LoC) trade and travel to begin with.
Mehbooba said Modi with a strong mandate at his back is in a commanding position to take major initiatives for carrying Vajpayee’s stalled peace process forward without facing any hurdle from the traditional hecklers. She said Kashmir could offer the window of opportunity to Modi and the platform for an all-inclusive agenda, as he needs to bridge the trust deficit with the minorities in the country. For that the friendship with Pakistan and an understanding with that country is the essential first step, said Mehbooba while hailing Modi’s reach out to the neighbors in the SAARC.